Director: Denis Villeneuve
Year Released: 2013
When the young daughters of Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard go missing one night, they become frantic trying to pin it on a strange near-mute (Paul Dano); meanwhile, a hard-blinking detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) - who doesn't believe the mute took the girls - looks elsewhere for clues. Tense filmmaking for the first act, it eventually becomes uncomfortable in its graphic treatment of torture (what Jackman and Howard do to Dano's character unjustly is morally reprehensible) and then morphs into over-acting (Jake smashing a keyboard! Hugh smashing a sink!) and studied unpredictability. It's one thing for a story to progress gracefully, but Aaron Guzikowski's script is mechanical and logically flawed (one of many glaring issues: what, there's only one police officer working the case? also: Gyllenhaal does not operate according to protocol a good deal of the time), twisting itself to leave the movie on a purposely ambiguous (and conveniently startling) note. Think too hard and it falls apart.