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it's always interesting seeing what a good director and cast can make of what is pretty much a genre movie - child abduction, in this case. there is not much originality in the set pieces: children get abducted, the effect on the families, taking matters into one own's hands slash revenge, the intense detective working the case, his negligent captain, the suspects so mentally troubled that it all goes nowhere, how far would you go, and so on. there is little focus on the police work, and it's not built as a whodunit it at all; it's not fully committed as a psychological drama either, so it's not deep or insightful enough. but the brilliant, unsettling, flawlessly paced direction, the beautiful cinematography (it's been awhile since it rained so much in a movie, but oh all those rainy shots and wet windows) and a cast so good that some of it is wasted (maria bello, especially) are the golden lining that makes the movie fly and soar.
the mise en scene, with long takes, people/cars entering and leaving the frame in front of a static camera (minimum soundtrack too) - i especially liked the introduction of the van - and the camera work and editing in the dialogue scenes: the focus in some, not cutting from one person to another for lines or reaction shots. very watchable movie.
like the copious amounts of water, the movie is best experienced as a flow. the plot isn't built to be solved by the viewer; there isn't an accumulation of reveals and clues, no red herrings, minimum investigation talk or process, and the breakthroughs are brief and convenient. i'd even say that the plot doesn't really build up to a resolution, except in terms of mounting tension and stakes as the time passes. there aren't even twists per se, because there is nothing certain to twist in a different direction. maybe it's just my perception of the movie because i wasn't focused on "solving" it so didn't have to commit to any interpretation of events.
maybe this description of the plot doesn't sound like a praise, but it is... of sorts. like i said before, the movie does nothing spectacularly, except the visuals, which is enough for me - there it is, actually, the explanation for this rating, all else is rationalizations. also, the pacing is glorious: at 2 hours and a half, the movie didn't feel long. i really, really enjoyed it.
on second thought, i added the "caveat" tag because this rating is damn high. the hallmark of this one is that i didn't care about an ending. i don't mean that i didn't care what the ending was, i mean it literally. i stopped the movie to get something to drink and, as i came back, i checked the remaining time and realized that it didn't matter, that i was satisfied with the movie where it was, and the credits could have rolled. this caveat is the total lack of focus on plot, which i suppose is unusual enough to warrant the tag. (at least it has good acting. one of my favorite movies is suspiria, and that one lives on style alone, shamelessly.)
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