House Logo
Explore categories +

Zhang Yimou (#110 of 7)

Berlinale 2012 The Captive, Flowers of War, Sister, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, & Meteora

Comments Comments (...)

Berlinale 2012: The Captive, Flowers of War, Sister, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and Meteora
Berlinale 2012: The Captive, Flowers of War, Sister, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and Meteora

Berlinale, the most smoothly run of all major festivals, is a pleasure for the Anglophone. Everybody speaks English and most of the non-English-language films have English subtitles rather than German. However, this Anglo-centricism seems to be creeping into several films here, among those from the Philippines, China and Switzerland, which suffer from the misguided idea that they would attract a wider audience, especially an American one.

English is the lingua franca of Brillante Mendoza’s The Captive, which seems to have been directed by his younger brother, Mediocre Mendoza. Based on a true story of the kidnapping of a group of tourists and Christian missionaries by a group of armed men belonging to a militant Islamist group, it fails the first principal of a disaster movie: identification with the victims. Except for Isabelle Huppert, as one of the missionaries, they’re an anonymous lot. Only toward the end of a long two hours, during which we are subjected to what can be called “wobblyscope”—jerky handheld camerawork intending to give the story the immediacy of a documentary, relieved only a few times by a crane shot or two—is there a feeble attempt to get Huppert to relate to one of her captors, a 15-year-old soldier. Mendoza seems to think that it’s enough to present the hardships the victims suffered in the Philippine jungle at the hands of Islamist fanatics without any overarching viewpoint.