‘Prisoners’ is intense, dark, and one of the best movies this year

I finally took some time out of my hectic school/work schedule for some “Me Time” – some desperately needed work/life balance – to go watch Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. Here’s what I wrote in my Rotten Tomatoes review (which generally are more blabbing than proper reviewing – forewarning):

This is one of those movies where you have to pay attention all the way through. The director – who’s Canadian! – makes it easy for you by slowly guiding you through the story.

The performances, of course, should be mentioned because you have never seen Hugh Jackman like you have seen Hugh Jackman in this movie. I was a little wary going into this movie that Hugh and Jake Gyllenhaal were a little too young for their roles, but they both did extremely well. Gyllenhaal, for one, does less of his “Zodiac” I-need-to-know performance, but does a more subtle performance. As for Jackman, he just goes off the charts in this role. There are some spectacular scenes he’s in that really impress you – I would say it’s his most emotionally intense role yet, but I haven’t seen all his movies, so I can’t say that for sure!

The directing/cinematography/style probably stood out to me the most though. Like Hugh Jackman said in the Academy Conversations series for this movie, the script really could have gone either way. It could have been this cliched thriller about two girls getting kidnapped, or it could be how it is now for Prisoners. And this is all Denis Villeneuve, who engages the audience with shots that are meaningful to the story and the setting. Almost this entire movie, it’s murky, dark, in the scenes it’s either raining or snowing. And no, you don’t just see the actors just standing there saying lines in the rain, but Villeneuve use the rain/snow to depict vision and the whole shady ambiguity of the characters. And if you really pay attention, there are some great lighting effects used in the movie, where characters go in and out of the darkness, that make the movie give this really beautiful innocent feel to it – which, as an audience member, makes you recall that this whole story is really about two innocent lives being taken.

Then I can mention about the story that has theme of moral ambiguity to it. The script is really brilliant in the way that there are distinct characters for every audience member to relate to. Viola Davis said in the Academy Conversations series for this movie that audience members could see themselves in Hugh’s character, her character, Maria’s character, Terrence’s character etc. And that the carefully planned silences in the movie allow for the audience to pause and think and wonder what if they were in Hugh’s shoes? Which character would they see themselves in? This was such a strong story, that leaves the audience thinking even hours later. Hollywood needs to make more of these πŸ˜‰

I can also mention about how the story can pretty much be taken to any city/town in North America and still work! And by any location, I mean, /any location/. The bungalows could still be there, the rain, the suburban malls etc. They could all work. I love that, because obviously in a time where audiences are tired of box office hits, this story could be transplanted into just every day life. Everybody could somehow relate to it.

Anyhow, long review later. I can see a few Oscar nominations for this movie on the horizon. It’s really that good. Dark, and probably not an easy watch, but really that good.

All in all, I would highly recommend this movie. Definitely in my top 3 this year so far! Wedged between Stoker and The Place Beyond the Pines!

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  • Happy Friday! πŸŽ‰πŸΎπŸ₯‚ (I take the best selfies when I'm drunk lbr.)
  • Sharing some old photos of my day trip to Bath earlier this month.

01) River Avon flowing under Pulteney Bridge.
02) The Bath Abbey overlooking the Roman Baths. 
03) A photo of some ancient engineering still working today. The Romans dug up the hot springs to flow into the steam rooms in the bath building.
04) Piles of rocks that laid underneath stone floors in these steam rooms.

Ancient Rome is such a fascinating era to learn about. Still a bit disappointed we couldn't stay longer, but it was super interesting to learn about how Romans used to visit a still standing building. They even had old coins and old jewellery on display! Who needs to visit Rome in person when you've got Bath? πŸ˜‚πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§
  • I was on 3" heels. I'm usually not that much taller than @k7cheung. #WeddingSelfie 🀳🏻 - Also, sneaking that candid photo in for the lulz because I want to learn how it feels to be an Instagram influencer who posts up photos of herself in mid-pose while in a fancy dress. πŸ˜‚
  • About last night. So happy that I was able to be there in person to celebrate you two. ❀️ Congratulations!! 😘
  • Checklist. Beautiful day to visit the mysterious Stonehenge. β›…
  • One of the top highlights of my weekend though has got to be meeting @momosface for the first time! My all-time favourite dog celebrity. πŸ• He's as adorable and cute and energetic as he seems to be in all of @andrewknapp's Instagrams!! 😍 He's also so well-trained. So amazing to see Momo "stay" in one spot for as long as Andrew tells him too. WHAT A GOOD BOY. I've had such a crush on @andrewknapp and @momosface for so long, I was too shy to even go up to them to say hi at first. 😭 But then I was like, "OK, it's just a dog, Wendy, get over yourself." 😭 Anyway, I did shyly say goodbye to Momo and Andrew at the end, so that's got to count for something. Such a great dog lover meet-up. London needs to host more of these!! (P.S. I didn't apply any saturation filters on this photo. Only some brightening fixes. The Google Pixel really is this great.)