La Captive (2000)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - Belgium , France   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jonathan Crow

In her previous works -- particularly her masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles -- Chantal Akerman offered a nuanced portrayal of women quietly trying to maintain their own identity in the face of male domination. For her film La Captive, Akerman returns to this fertile territory of gender difference, but this time approaches it from the male point of view. Though Captive is populated with similar, carefully wrought long takes intended to reveal the subtleties of motive and psychology in the characters, this work feels much less potent and interesting than her earlier films. Captive marks the first time that Akerman presents a film through the point of view of a male character, and this may account for the work's oddly stilted and forced feel. The characters never quite gel and the film's careful, observant style just feels unaffecting and, on occasion, obvious. Moreover, though imbued with a certain dry wit, Captive slides perilously close to a parody of a French arthouse film, with its heavy-handed dialogue, mannered acting, and gauzy cinematography. Overall, the film is a minor work by a major filmmaker.