Scott Speedman (TV’s Last Resort, Dark Blue, Barney’sVersion)returns to Atom Egoyan country with the psychological thriller The Captive (the pair previously worked on the 2008 feature Adoration).
Released exclusively on DirecTV last month and opening in New York December 12, The Captive centers on a landscaper named Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) who is haunted by the disappearance of his daughter. In the eight years since her abduction, Matthew and his wife Tina (Mireille Enos) understandably cling to their child’s memory, hoping that one day they’ll find a resolution to their tragedy.
Rosario Dawson and Scott Speedman are the dogged detectives who continue to search for the girl’s kidnapper (Lost actor Kevin Durand). With the use of his trademark (yet still fresh) non-linear narrative, Egoyan weaves a compelling tale of obsession, manipulation, and ultimate redemption.
During the interviews for The Captive, I asked Scott Speedman about the innovative creative spirit that drives Atom Egoyan.
He’s just not interested in telling simple, down the line, obvious stories. It’s a very challenging thing he does and I think that’s what sets him apart. He’s very brave in his choices.
I also asked Scott Speedman about being selective over his movie and TV roles. He gives a pretty funny answer as he talks about his career:
The Captive, which also stars Alexia Fast (Manhattan) and Bruce Greenwood (Mao’s Last Dancer, Devil’s Knot), also opens in Los Angeles December 19.
I had the pleasure of interview director Atom Egoyan(Exotica, Where the Truth Lies, The Sweet Hereafter, Devil’s Knot) this week in Los Angeles, and during the session he was asked about another movie that he recently finished.
Remember stars Christopher Plummer, an actor Egoyan previously worked with on Ararat. In a Daily Variety piece, Plummer described Remember as a story that is “arresting and powerful beyond measure.”
Penned by Benjamin August, the project also stars Martin Landau, Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), and Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire).
Atom Egoyan sums up Remember below:
“Christopher Plummer plays a Holocaust survivor with early stages (of) dementia who thinks he’s found the person responsible for having killed his family in Auschwitz and goes on a mission to execute this person but keeps forgetting why.
What’s remarkable (about) the script is that (they’re) all these themes that are really close to me but it’s a really completely linear story. And yet the complexity of the characters is so fascinating and Plummer is extraordinary . . . It’s a pleasure to work with him again.”
To hear Atom Egoyan’s audio version of his answer, click on the media bar below:
The Captive, which premiered exclusively on DirectTV on November 13, hits theaters December 12. I’ll have more posts on The Captive, a thriller which I really enjoyed, in the coming days.
The Captive’s Boilerplate Summary: In this psychological thriller from Academy Award Nominated director Atom Egoyan, Matthew (Ryan Reynolds) steps briefly into a diner and comes out to find that his young daughter Cassandra has vanished without a trace from the back of his truck. Her unsolved abduction destroys Matthew’s once-happy relationship with his wife, Tina (Mireille Enos), who, haunted by mementos of Cassandra that appear mysteriously at her work, suspects her husband of foul play. Years later, when detectives Nicole (Rosario Dawson) and Jeffrey (Scott Speedman) discover recent images of Cassandra online, Matthew risks everything to ensure his daughter’s safe return—and to save himself and Tina from the limbo of unrelenting despair. Kevin Durand, Alexia Fast, and Bruce Greenwood co-star.
If you’re in search for a drama filled with heartrending (and inspired) work from its actors, it’ll be hard to beat Gimme Shelter. Vanessa Hudgens is Apple, a pregnant teen who struggles to find a home after leaving her crack addicted mother June (Rosario Dawson). Both actresses give standout performances in the feature, which also stars Brendan Fraser as Apple’s Wall Street exec dad.
“I felt a lot of compassion for her,” said Dawson. “There’s going to be a lot of people who will be walking by Junes on their way into this movie, and I really hope when they walk out they see Apple and have a different experience, and maybe see people who they didn’t see before.”
The film’s theme of finding one’s family, whether it stems from one’s DNA or a group of former strangers, is sure to pull on our heart strings, but thankfully director Ron Krauss avoids painting the story with heavy handed or maudlin brushstrokes.
For Dawson, accepting the role of June Bailey came from a very personal place. Click on the clip below to hear her talk about how she connected with Gimme Shelter.
The actress, who is set to travel to Haiti for 100K World Water Day, also. “I hope I get to push myself and grow and be a better actor,” added Dawson. “I have one of the best jobs in the world. As long as I stay lucid, and I can remember a few lines here and there, I can act until the day I die. And that’s an awesome thing.”
During Gimme Shelter’s third act, director Ronald Krauss effectively utilizes “To Build A Home,” a stirring song from The Cinematic Orchestra. Although it starts off in subtle fashion, the track reaches an epic swell as Patrick Watson reflects on life’s evanescent nature. But nothing in this world is truly permanent, and on our borrowed time building a home, or for that matter a family, can be a truly beautiful thing.
We are introduced to Apple (Vanessa Hudgens), a distraught, angry teenager who leaves her crack addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) to find her absentee father (Brendan Fraser), a successful Wall Street exec who’s moved on with his own family (Stephanie Szostak, memorable in Dinner for Schmucks, plays Fraser’s wife). Life in a new environment unfortunately doesn’t suit Apple, whose emotional scars won’t exactly heal overnight.
Apple’s pregnancy complicates matters with her father and stepmom, as they suggest that motherhood is not her best option. Distraught and confused, Apple moves on and decides to keep her baby even with no resources at her disposal. A near fatal car accident leads her to a friendship with a dedicated clergyman (an effective James Earl Jones) who then steers her into a shelter headed by a woman named Kathy (Ann Dowd).
Ronald Krauss’ film is inspired by his friendship with Kathy DiFiore, the founder of Several Sources Shelter, and he lived at the shelter for a year to research a planned documentary. After taping over 200 hours of interviews, he decided a narrative was the most effective way to tell Kathy’s story, and Apple was inspired by several women he met at the shelter (including one of the film’s co-stars, Darlisha Dozier).
It’s great to see Krauss’ cinematic heart is in the right place, and although some naysayers may see the drama as heavy handed and predictable, I was completely immersed with Apple’s journey. I’m a sucker whenever an actor goes for the fences and hits a performance out of the park, and Vanessa Hudgens, who gained 15 pounds and lived in a shelter for several weeks, gives her most inspired performance to date. There are no false notes in Hudgens’ work, and it’s hard not to connect Apple’s transformation with the actress’ own personal growth. It’s a finely etched and nuanced turn, and along with her turns in Spring Breakers and The Frozen Ground, Hudgens is carving out an impressive body of work.
Brendan Fraser, who donated his film’s salary to DiFiore’s Several Sources Shelter, brings ample empathy and depth to a role that could have been considered two dimensional. As June, Rosario Dawson also delivers a pitch perfect portrayal of a woman who will probably never overcome her crippling addictions. In one memorable sequence with Hudgens, Dawson delivers a monologue that’s truly hard to shake, as June finally realizes that she’s lost her one and only love.
To hear Rosario Dawson talk about the complex relationship between Apple and June, click on the clip below:
There will be discussions that Gimme Shelter is a pro-life film since it explores Apple’s decision and and Kathy DiFiore’s faith filled experiences. But these are all ingredients which are part of a bigger meal, as the picture offers a compelling look at how family isn’t simply defined by our DNA. A house is not a home without filling it with the people we love, and thanks to sublime acting from all parties involved, as well as solid storytelling from Mr. Krauss, Gimme Shelter continues to resonate past the closing credits.
To hear Vanessa Hudgens staying in character during Gimme Shelter, click on the Soundcloud bar below:
One of the beauties of Italian neorealism is its dedication at using non-actors in telling an immersive narrative. Crafted by such directors as Roberto Rossellini (Rome, Open City) and Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief), it’s a genre that still echoes today, most notably in director Ronald Krauss’ inspired (and at times heartbreaking drama) Gimme Shelter.
In her most nuanced and challenging performance to date, Vanessa Hudgens is Apple Bailey, a pregnant teenage runaway who tracks down her birth father (an understated Brendan Fraser) in an attempt to seek a bit of refuge. With an abusive, drug addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) as her main parental figure, Apple’s life has been nothing short of a nightmare, but thanks to her determination and flourishing friendship with an extended family, things gradually change for the better.
The feature is inspired by Kathy DiFiore, who has made it her life work at running Several Sources Shelters. Mr. Krauss spent a year living in a shelter to initially direct a documentary, but instead decided to pen a screenplay based on his experience with the various women he met during his stay.
“When you see ‘based on a true story’ in a lot of films, usually those are recounting a story from years ago, ” says Krauss. “(With Gimme Shelter) it was evolving around me as I was writing the screenplay. There was a limit because the abuse that these girls really go through, I couldn’t put that in the movie.”
A harrowing sequence of the film features Apple’s mom ready to attack her with a razor blade sticking out of her mouth. “The razor blade (scene) – that really happened to this young girl named Darlisha (Darlisha Dozier, who co-stars in the feature),” added Krauss. “They told me things that were so hard and I felt so much for these girls and their lives. The courage of (them) to come out and open up – it’s hard. They trusted me to do a good job and tell their story and their story to help others, so that other people can see this film and get inspired to reach out to people.”
To hear Kathy DiFiore talk about the joy behind making Several Sources Shelters her life work, click on the SoundCloud bar below:
Gimme Shelter opens January 24. To hear Rosario Dawson talk about her role in the film, check out the previous post, which also contains Gimme Shelter’s official trailer.
January is usually a month that’s littered with horrible movies. However, one film I’m eagerly anticipating is Gimme Shelter, a project which continues Vanessa Hudgens’ inspired choice of work. In the past several years, the High School Musical star has turned in solid work in Sucker Punch, Spring Breakers, and The Frozen Ground (I still haven’t checked out Machete Kills).