Friday, October 18, 2013


Harlequin KISS and Modern Tempted author Heidi Rice takes a break from her US road trip to talk about the edgy new thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman... Phwoar!

So am writing this blog from a garage apartment in Lafayette Louisiana with a one-bar internet connection on my iPad (and after a night dancing my butt off to Wayne Toups and the Zyde-Cajuns at the Festival Arcadiane) so please excuse brevity, typos, excessive use of superlatives, lack of pictures (because I don't know how to add those on an iPad) and general incoherency!

I saw Prisoners last week in Brooklyn (while staying on a house barge that was moored across the road from the multiplex, I kid you not) so how much I adored this film may be somewhat coloured by time, place  and Americana intoxication! But love it I did. Even though the thriller plot is based on one of my worse nightmares, namely child abduction.

So, what's to love? Well, quite apart from the two-hottie potential of having both Jake Gyllenhaal (as the cop on the case) and Hugh Jackman (as the vigilante dad of one of the missing girls) in the same movie - plus I should give an honourable mention to the also hot and super great Terrence Howard (as the other dad) - this was a thriller with lots of brilliantly handled additional emotional baggage. Personally I really hate thrillers which use crime as a hook for suspense without ever exploring the emotional impact of those crimes on the people involved. This film does exactly the opposite.... These are real people put in a devastatingly grim situation who react in honest and truthful ways to the stress and traumas they are forced to undergo.

For a movie star who has spent a large part of the last few years playing a mutant super hero with extendable metal claws, Hugh Jackman is something of a revelation as the father desperate to be a hero for his missing child. He does unforgivable things while letting you see and understand his pain and his desperation...

And Jake? Wow! Ever since Brokeback Mountain I've thought that Jake Gyllenhaal was one of the best screen actors around. Here, as the strangely detached  but always dogged detective he brings a complexity to the performance which is quite simple spellbinding while also being beautifully understated. You always feel as if there is so much going on behind his eyes, in that haunted look of a man who has had to disengage his emotions to do his job...

The supporting performances, particularly from Terrence and the incomparable Viola Davis as the parents of the other missing girl, and Maria Bello as Hugh's distraught wife, are superb... And the whole thing, set in rain-soaked Georgia oozes eerie, oppressive atmosphere to spare.

The plot does sort of head off a cliff in the final reels, spiralling into improbability, with a few fairly enormous plot holes... But frankly by that time you'll be so engaged in the characters you'll be more than prepared to leap off that cliff with them and not look down!

I recommend this movie, and if you can go back to a house barge afterwards in Brooklyn and enjoy a cold Sam Adams while watching the sun do down from the deck... All the better.

Heidi is currently writing her next KISS book while tripping on Americana. Her latest book, Maid of Dishonor, which is part of the fabulous Wedding Season Quartet is out now in Harlequin KISS and M&B Modern Tempted. Chat to her on Twitter @HeidiRomRice or check out her website at

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