By L.D. Freeman
Captive Captivates In A Very Real Way
Critics who have pinned the tagline “sluggish” to veteran director Jerry Jameson’s latest film, Captive must have missed the film that was on the screen at the time.
Based on a true story of vicious crimes, drug abuse and quasi enlightenment and redemption, Captive hews closely to reality, and its pace neither races ahead of events nor overdramatizes the already dramatic. Simply put, it runs to what feels like real time to the viewer, a feat not easily achieved. While it does have something of a ‘made for TV movie’ aesthetic, the film is quite at home on the big screen.
Jameson took the risk of letting the plot line of actual events and the characters of not extraordinarily deep or complex people become the sinews of the tale. The characters exist, and are not caricatures that we may want to exist. Captive has high moments of drama and its ongoing tension operates within a narrow, nervous bandwidth that holds us tightly without smothering. To his credit, Jameson did not simply sensationalize what happened over the course of those many fear-ridden hours between a self-tormented victim and her conniving, unstable, murderous captor.
Captive, for better, does not wax indulgent or preachy with the nominal religious element of the story. It uses faith in a peripheral way – just the way one thinks it might have happened – to explain a remarkable turn of events during a grim, dicey hostage situation. Similarly, because it does not moralize about the seductive stranglehold of meth, we feel its treacherous powers as the drug rips the seams of loyalty in a tenuous mother-child relationship.
Maybe because this film is not overly indulgent or gratuitously sped up is what explains reviews that miss the point by critics who are habituated with hyper kinetics. Then again, maybe it is because it was a story embraced by Oprah Winfrey that explains their myopia . Yes, there are some “coulda, woulda shoulda” criticisms armchair directors can make, maybe, say, use part of the actual Oprah Winfrey show segment to lead into the story, but that misses the point. This film moves no more slowly than the Bogey/Bacall classic, Dark Passage which holds up quite well over time.
While Captive is not a blockbuster, “must see”, it is easily a powerful, poignant thought-provoking tale and is an “ought to see”. Had this not been a real story, it would have never been written, so more kudos are due to director Jameson.
Captive is not fiction. It is a well-crafted depiction of reality, and that is exactly the point. Director Jameson did what films ought to do: tell a story that ought to be told.