Prisoners | Chicago Reader


90 minutes

Directed by Scottish native Iain Dilthey, this well-made German-Austrian thriller (2006) aims for the combustible mix of hostage drama and cultural dysfunction that Michael Haneke offered up in Funny Games (1997). But here the dysfunction is sexual instead of class oriented: a lonely, repressed young biology researcher (Jule Böwe) begins writing letters to a stringy prison inmate (Andreas Schmidt) she glimpses from her apartment window. After he escapes and bursts into her place, she becomes his somewhat complicit captive. The content of the woman's letters is never presented and the script is rigorously spare in its dialogue, which leaves a lot of questions about both characters. But the wordless action helps ease the story through some of its more contrived moments as it sidles closer to its dark psychological themes. In German with subtitles.

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