Interviews & Profiles

A Canuck in Hollywood: The Films of Denis Villeneuve

Prisoners (2013)

Following the international critical acclaim afforded to Incendies, Villeneuve exploded onto the Hollywood scene with Prisoners, a frantic, frightening portrayal of how easily the line separating ethical and unethical practices can become blurred during one’s pursuit of justice.

When two neighbourhood girls are abducted in small town America, Hugh Jackman’s increasingly unhinged father soon graduates from concerned parent to vengeance-seeker, while a local detective, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, attempts to piece together the puzzle before it is too late. Both men, particularly Gyllenhaal, turn in high calibre performances, but it is Villeneuve who really comes into his own behind the camera, unleashing a brutal two-and-a-half-hour thriller without wasting a single second.

Working for the first time with legendary British cinematographer Roger Deakins and wide-ranging Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, Prisoners gave Villeneuve the chance to convey his knack for cinematic misdirection, emotional battery and technical superiority to a whole new audience, and boy did he take his chance by the scruff of the neck.

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