Canadian director Atom Egoyan returned to the Croisette today to present his latest film, The Captive (French title: Captives), which is in Competition for the Palme d’Or. It’s a story of parents (Ryan Reynolds and Mereille Enos, pictured) who have been stuck in agonising limbo for over 8 years, since their daughter was abducted and the case went cold. A new lead brings it all back into focus, and the father takes the law into his own hands to find his daughter. The film is set in the frostbitten winter climate of Niagara Falls, Ontario but those frozen-over Falls are far warmer than the reception the film got from critics when it premiered in Cannes.
The Captive was branded as far-fetched, for the leaps in logic it took in its procedural pursuit of a paedophile. Many – like me – questioned its inclusion in the Official Competition; it certainly does little to dispel the notion that Competition entry is for a rarified group of usual suspects.
Here's roundup of some of the best of the worst reactions to the film:
“A filmmaker once considered a unique voice has ventured into the fog of familiarity.” - Indiewire
“Egoyan won the Special Jury Prize in Cannes in 1997 for arguably his best film, The Sweet Hereafter, based on the Russell Banks novel about grief, anger and guilt in the aftermath of a tragedy involving children. A more sinister variation on that scenario unfolds, again in a snowbound small town, in what may be his worst film.” - The Hollywood Reporter
“As a straight procedural, this might have worked if Egoyan did not try the audience's patience and insult their intelligence with how utterly implausible his drama is.” - The Guardian
For all the brickbats heading the film’s way, some quarters of the UK press were kinder to it, and valiantly tried to claim it as a triumphant return to form. I'm not buying their arguments, but bless them for trying.
“A bold variation on genre tropes, but it demands a certain leap of faith from viewers willing to enter into the playful and perverse spirit of the game.” - ScreenDaily
"This is Egoyan’s best film for a very long time" - Telegraph