The Captive

Atom Egoyan’s The Captive tells the story of a little girl kidnapped from the back of her father’s car at the age of ten. Eight years go by, apparently without word of her, before some mysterious events simultaneously occur, indicating that the lost girl is still alive. Events take place in a small town close to Niagara Falls, which occasionally acts as a dramatic backdrop to events.

A starry cast leads this tale, with Ryan Reynolds playing the dad, Matthew, Rosario Dawson as the detective in charge of child abuse cases, and Kevin Durand as the kidnapper and keeper of Cassandra (Alexia Fast). Of these three leads, only Reynolds comes out relatively unharmed. Famous as a pretty-boy heart throb, he is convincing here as the distraught dad, blamed for his daughter’s abduction by his emotionally destroyed wife, Tina (Mireille Enos). Dawson is less fortunate, having the thankless task of being the beautiful detective, who herself has had a troubled childhood (“I celebrated my 14th birthday in a disused van…all the people I knew back then have disappeared”), in charge of one of the most hackneyed detective teams on film.

There’s the computer geek, the old-school cop and the visual compilation freak. Add to that the handsome rookie of the group (“that cowboy?”), Jeff (Scott Speedman), for some sexual frisson, and it’s the dream team! But it is poor Kevin Durand who suffers here. Whilst he is no Ryan Reynolds it would be nice to see the man playing somebody other than a bully, a bad cop or Mika, head of a super-cyber paedophile ring.

Everything we see or hear is overplayed and overused. The film opens in Mika’s fabulous home, all sleek wood floors and minimalist loveliness. He’s watching Mozart’s The Magic Flute, in particular the aria of the Queen of the Night singing to her captive daughter, Pamina. That should be enough for most viewers, but Egoyan presses home the point, later making Cassandra read the libretto and later still singing it to his prisoner.

Music is overused inĀ  general, intruding where silence would have worked more effectively. The screenplay clunks and clangs its way through some very hackneyed dialogue. There just doesn’t seem to be one original thought or sentence here. The story is too ridiculous to recount here, so no risk of any spoilers other than this: The Captive is a dud. As I left the theatre and walked out into the Cannes sunshine, I felt a little like I had been held captive and was finally, thankfully released.