Prisoners

the second film i opted for on my flight home—and, to be absolutely clear, i regret my first time watching this having been on the tiny screen embedded into the seat before mine. i can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to hear this score in a theater, or to see it on an appropriately-sized screen. but i don’t regret watching it, even if it made me feel so nauseated, so close to being ill.

everything about this is technically tight: the acting, the cinemtography, the pacing. this is a beast that never feels overly bloated; there are a number of threads and stray avenues explored and expanded upon, but nothing feels superfluous. the richness and depth of the world here pulses with such a terrible hunger—for justice, for freedom, for revenge. as impressive as this is with regard to artistic execution, it is even more disturbing and triumphant in its philosophical inquiries. this isn’t a question of how far someone will go. this isn’t a question even of what makes someone go that far. this is an unflinching stare down a blank barrel at what happens when you can’t come back. when you can’t get out. when you trap yourself. when you are both your own victim and your own warden. the liberator and the keeper. there are no heroes; there are only prisoners.

and that everyone IS, in some horrible way, a prisoner....... good fucking god. the claustrophobia of this film is palpable, in the lighting and framing and blocking. even though the woods are out there, a seemingly infinite frontier, nothing feels so small as this town where no one can get out. there is no maze, because there is no way out. there is only a labriynth leading downward, deeper toward desire and indulgence and violence, such great violence. 

there are a few shots in this—you must know the ones; where the screen is mostly dark, with only a sliver of light, illuminating not something good but something broken and horrific—that i think will keep me up late tonight. the tension of this builds and builds and builds, and there is no cathartic relief; there is only more pain that we must mask as release in order to persist onward. i really need to sit with this one more and definitely rewatch it, but christ. this is a monster with no mercy, a film that does not and cannot and will not flinch.

Tay liked these reviews