Last time on Sundance So Far, we discussed “The Bronze” and other movies that opened the festival. Temperatures dropped to 18 degrees at sundown in Park City, Utah, on Day 2 of Sundance. Parkas were out and crowds were thick at some of the most anticipated films of the opening weekend. The press screening for “Z for Zachariah,” filled up two hours before the film began, and Jason Segel stunned audiences as David Foster Wallace at the world premiere of “The End of the Tour.” We’ll write about both of those films shortly, but here are the other titles HuffPost Entertainment editor Matthew Jacobs and Los Angeles senior editor Sasha Bronner caught on Friday:
Written and directed by Nikole Beckwith
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Jason Isaacs and Cynthia Nixon
There is more than initially meets the eye in the post-kidnapping drama about a young woman, played by Saoirse Ronan (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”), who is returned to her home after being held captive in a basement for the majority of her life.
Taken from a park when she was 4 years old raised by her kidnapper (played by Jason Isaacs), the extent of what her character knows about the world can be held in the palm of her hand.
The film’s intentional use of claustrophobia does the trick. When Ronan sticks her head out of her bedroom window and, we presume, feels rain for the first time, you too feel her wonder and her innocence.
But this is not an innocent film. Cynthia Nixon, who plays Ronan’s mother, is understandably emotional when her daughter returns home and does her very best to help the family acclimate to their suddenly different circumstances (think “trust falls”). But the people of the town stare. And they discover that their missing daughter doesn’t know when her real birthday is, doesn’t remember them at all and actually thinks that her name is Leia — “named after a Princess,” she tells her parents on her first afternoon home.
The psychological phenomenon Stockholm syndrome describes the common scenario of a captive feeling protective, loving and sympathetic to their captor. Ronan’s character visits the man who took her only once in jail and after telling him that she doesn’t know how to do anything in the real world, she also says she doesn’t know what the worst thing is that’s happened to her — spending her life with him, or spending the rest of it without him.
When she asks if he regrets it, he answers that it takes the same amount of effort to run in place or to run a mile, and he would rather see the mile.
A startling twist (which, of course, we will not ruin for you) turns everything inside out. Filmmaker Nikole Beckwith presents a quiet and powerful debut feature that succeeds in redefining what captivity means as well as tilting the kaleidoscope of identity and love ninety degrees on its side.
Stay tuned: Saoirse Ronan gets more screen time at the festival — she also stars in the 1950s…