Chantal Akerman. Hmm. Where have I heard that name before… Where, oh where, have I heard that name… Oh yeah. Jeanne Dielman. Having been essentially forced to sit through that, I was none too pleased to see that Akerman had another film on the list, even if it had been removed from later editions, so I guess I was pre-disposed to not like this one. This would also be the second adaptation of a Marcel Proust work to make the list, after Time Regained, and seeing how much I loved that one, I was just absolutely itching to see what this had to offer. Nevertheless, I gave The Captive a sporting chance, and what did it give me in return? A lot of head-scratching and befuddled narrative, that’s what.
The plot of the film was hard to discern at first, and aside from a one sentence summary I couldn’t rely on the Wikipedia article in that regard, so I tried to pay extra close attention; even then, I wasn’t sure where I was most of the time. The film started, and it seemed like it would go the route of following a young man as he essentially stalks a young girl he is infatuated with, but then a bathroom scene begins, and the two are suddenly already in a relationship. It turns out, they are fiancees (I think…), and he is following her around the city for other reasons. Whatever really was going on, that’s how confused I was through the whole thing, which is never a good sign. It didn’t help that it seemed that the characters referred to each other by different names at times, and the names they did use were very similar to each other, but maybe that had just been the fault of the subtitles, or my own confusion. As for the style of the film, it was very classic; the film even used title cards to jump forward in time successively – a decision I found rather vintage, and not really in the good sense.
The more I watched this, the more antiquated it felt. This is a film for an era long since gone by; it’s not the type of film that should be made in today’s modern time and sense of moviemaking, even for a foreign drama. I could see Akerman getting away with this film if it were made in the 1970s or so, but not 2000. The whole thing just felt old-fashioned to me, and now that I’ve experienced it, I can say that it’s not something I would like to experience in my films. It might be asking a bit much, to some, but I would also like to watch a film, even in a foreign language, and know what is going on for at least half, if not all of the time. Maybe that’s asking too much from cinema, but that just might be the frowning mood this put me in speaking. Either way, it’s certainly not how I wanted to end up after watching The Captive, so I can only say, be hesitant towards this one, lest you end up like I did.
Arbitrary Rating: 5/10