A couple of days ago I watched Admission for the first time. I know right. The worst. But this chick I was trying to bang suggested we rent it and my penis will sit through anything if it’s getting blown at the end. Anyway, spoiler alert, Admission is about Tina Fey trying to find her son she put up for adoption years earlier. After a few long, uninspired hours the film ends with the son deciding she doesn’t want to meet Tina Fey. Roll Credits.
My broad was all upset by this. I asked her why and she responded, “Well, I’ll never know if she gets to meet her son. It would have been better if the film ended with the son dying. Then I’d know for sure everything was over.”
I then replied, “But that wasn’t the point of the film. If they killed off the son they would have had to tack on another thirty minutes to tie everything up. The whole moral is designed to be ambiguous.”
To which she shot back, “Well that’s stupid.”
The ambiguous narrative ain’t for everyone. I get it. But I tend to eat these stories up. There’s a lot of gray in the world and sometimes answers don’t come so easy. And they sure as hell aren’t wrapped up in two hours like most movies. So, it’s with that love of ambiguity, that I quite liked Prisoners. But, be warned, you won’t find things easily compartmentalized.
Prisoners stars The Wolverine and the Pimp from Hustle and Flow. Their daughters disappear. And The Wolverine is all like, “RAAAWAEEERRRRR FUCKING RAWWWWRRRRR I’M GONNA KILL THE BITCH THAT KIDNAPPED MY GIRL!!!!” So he sets Donnie Darko on the case but Darko is a slow son of a bitch so The Wolverine goes, “FUCK YOU DARKO I’M GONNA BEAT THE GUY THAT STOLE MY PRINCESS!!! RAWWWWRRRR!!!!!”
There’s a lot of meat to chew on here. Meat that, with a lesser director and cast, could have fallen by the wayside and made Prisoners a paint by number thriller. And, in a lot of cases, it is fairly straight forward. If you’ve seen an episode of SVU, you can probably anticipate the narrative beats. But, unlike SVU, Prisoners does a really good job showing what crimes actually do to victims. We get to see The Wolverine hit the bottle a little too hard. His wife shuts down completely. And we don’t really begrudge them when they decide to take matters into their own hands.
Yet they’re never portrayed as heroes. Lord no, they’re real and flawed and probably have years of therapy to deal with following the events of the film. That’s where Prisoners succeeds. The bad guys are never quite purely evil. And the good guys don’t wear white.
So, if that’s you’re cup of tea, go for it. It’s a dour and sturdy flick that shouldn’t have gotten made by a big studio in this day and age. Main stream movies like this need more attention so hopefully Hollywood will stop making Pirates of The Caribbean 20. But, be warned, there’s nothing but gray at the end of this tunnel.