on May 03, 1996 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
No doubt due to Ormond's rising fame with her turns in "Legends of the Fall," "First Knight" and "Sabrina" and to Roth's own ascend-ing fame, "Captives" makes a belated but not necessarily welcome commercial debut after its world premiere as a gala presentation at the 1994 Toronto film festival.
Ormond plays Rachel Clifford, a lonely dentist still suffering from a painful breakup, who throws caution to the wind and embarks on a tumultuous love affair with Philip Chaney (Roth), a soft-spoken prisoner whom she meets when she does some part-time work at a high-security jail. Rachel has always been a cautious, even repressed sort, but soon she and Chaney are having illicit sex in a prison bathroom stall. From there, their relationship grows increasingly complicated and even dangerous, when figures from Chaney's past find out about his forbidden love affair.
In its early scenes, "Captives" displays some energy and a promise of compelling drama. Rachel and Philip's initial meetings are fraught with a delicious sexual tension that makes one wonder where they are headed. But the movie soon runs out of steam. Once the pair's relationship is established, "Captives" seems boxed into a corner, not knowing where to go next. Its descent into almost slasher fare, with Rachel menaced by the bad guys, is singularly unimaginative.
For her part, Ormond doesn't reveal much of any depth, despite a script that tries hard to flesh out her character. Roth, however, is superb as the hard-bitten con with a vulnerable interior; he easily lets us see why Rachel falls so much in love with him. Director Angela Pope, a British documentary filmmaker who here is making her fiction feature debut, obviously has real talent (she also creates a unique view of London as a dangerous place full of shadows and threat), but unfortunately Pope has chosen an obvious and unsatisfying genre in which to display it. Starring Tim Roth and Julia Ormond. Directed by Angela Pope. Written by Frank Deasy. Produced by David M. Thompson. A Miramax release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 95 min.
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