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The Captive by Atom Egoyan

September 29, 2015


An evil kidnapper, a mother and a father trying to cope with the disappearance of their only daughter and to investigate the affair we have two cops haunted by their own past, if I put it this way then The Captive would sound like ordinary thriller material – ordinary but very up-to-date since the investigation gravitates towards pedophilia at the time of the internet – but as it is usual with Atom Egoyan the structures of film genre are only a pretext to explore his favorite themes: how to deal with the loss of our beloved ones, the way our childhood influences who we are as adults and the conflicting worlds of childhood and adulthood, the role of technology in our lives.


Spectators familiar with Egoyan’s oeuvre will find many ideas or even whole scenes that sound familiar here – just take the man who gives a lift to a teenager girl and than stands watching her while she enters her home: it comes right out of Exotica – but while Exotica itself and The Sweet Hereafter were able to score both money and critical success, The Captive has busted Egoyan on both fronts. Alas The Captive contains too many elements of reality – of the reality of our time and the way this reality is usually portrayed in film and media – to leave space within them for the allegorical world of the Canadian director – it is no coincidence that drafting the screenplay Egoyan had titled it the queen of the night from the highly allegorical The Magic Flute by Mozart – whose usual mixture of genre elements and personal vision blend badly this time. The early films of Atom Egoyan were highly original in the use of the medium and gave the spectators the sensation that they were facing an artist talking about the future, nowadays Egoyan looks like a director seen by the film industry like ¨the guy who makes films about disappearing children¨ and the worst part of it is that it seems Egoyan has accepted this condition: is this the eclipse of one of the great directors of our time?

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