Movie Review: The Captive

Movie Review: The Captive

A harrowing film about the consequences of child abuse

By Ben McEachenWednesday 3 Dec 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Know what the problem is with film reviewers? They are people. Just like everyone else, they are people capable of being wrong.

Movie Review: The Captive

According to most reviewers, The Captive is a sluggish, silly film. But that’s not right. The Captive is a haunting, harrowing film about the consequences of child abuse. The subject matter will be enough to scare many away. Fair enough. But those able to stomach a respectful yet gouging glimpse into such painful territory, should be struck by The Captive‘s stark reminder to love children selflessly. Not selfishly.

Known for arthouse favourites such as Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter, writer-director Atom Egoyan often is a darling of film reviewers. But reviewers’ trashing The Captive seems to stem from their being miffed about Egoyan using the framework of a mainstream thriller. Plus, he’s dared to apply it to the ‘distasteful’ and ‘unpleasant’ scenario of a pedophile kidnapping a 10-year-old girl. But what seems to have been missed is The Captive‘s searing heart. Not to mention how its cryptic construction adds emotional weight, rather than destroying it.

Leaping between the present and the past without explanation is disorienting and troubling. That’s the point, as Egoyan powerfully enfolds us into a horrid story. The worst bit is children in the real world, experience cruelty like that inflicted upon Cass (Alexia Fast). Locked in a room for years, kidnapped Cass has been a sex slave for Mika (Kevin Durand). Mercifully, The Captive only alludes to the abuse, and does not show it. But a sickened feeling should smother viewers. Mika’s calculated degrading of children is a lifestyle choice. While Durand’s appearance and manner are cartoonish to the point of being a major distractin, they cannot thwart how monstrous Mika is.

Hopefully, even describing parts of The Captive‘s plot will cause you to fiercely uphold how children are a precious gift from God (Psalm 127:3). A status which demands that parents love and lead them like God does (Ephesians 6:1-4). What happens when children are stolen from the family that should nurture and support them? The Captive provides heart-wrenching insights, as Cass’ parents Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) and Tina (Mireille Enos) live a perpetual nightmare. The strain of not knowing what happened to Cass has destroyed their marriage. Tina blames Matthew. Matthew carries that. Rage. Frustration. Sorrow. Repeat.

Without blaming our technological age, The Captive effortlessly draws attention to the disgusting exploitation enabled by the internet. Mika has also groomed Cass to lure other girls, via online sites.  His atrocious manipulation of children is a searing reminder of how far short humans can fall in their treatment of each other. Another reminder comes as several police investigators (Rosario Dawson and Scott Speedman) believe Matthew to be behind Cass’ abduction. Their hostile suspicion indicates the terrible reality of distrust and abuse which has torn apart many family relationships for thousands of years.

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

During and after The Captive, you will long for justice. Or hope. Or some sure sign that people can be more selfless, than selfish. A sign was offered by Jesus, in his famous interaction with children (recorded in Mark 10:13-16). ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ Jesus’ words to his disciples deserve our deeper investigation. But one implication of his loving words points to how selfless guidance of children, not selfish exploitation, can be a helping hand towards them living rightly with God. That’s a weighty – but invaluable – responsibility when caring for children.

Rating: MA15+
Distributor: Icon
Release Date: December 4