Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Captain Phillips (a biopic)

I’m not sure if I’ve ever blogged about a movie before. It’s not every day that I’m moved by a film enough to write about it, but last night’s film made such an impression on me that I still find myself calming the last of my knee shakes, in a racing rhythm with the pulse in my fingertips.

Directed by Paul Greengrass and starring the absolutely, inescapably brilliant Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips is a biographical film of the story of merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali Pirates while en route through the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa. 
To be honest, when I first caught a glimpse of the preview, I saw: Tom Hanks, ocean, boat, yelling, and this made me think: No, no, no, no.  My Wilson-tried ignorance led me to believe this would be a dud- another capitalization on readily available storylines, resulting from the exhaustion of movies yet to remake, folklores to animate, and the like. Despite its Hollywood appeal (Kevin Spacey is one of the producers!), Captain Phillips is raw, genuine, excruciatingly painful, and the sort of movie that finds one forgetting to breathe. 
Luckily, my ignorance often leads me to miss international news, and I was not aware of the progress-or, perhaps more importantly, resolution- of this story, so I truly had no idea where it was going. Without giving away any of the plot, I’ll just say that it is NEVER over when you think it’s over. Until it’s over, and you feel your body slowly sink into a shock – the next segment of the film. Perhaps the best part of the story is the commitment you’re forced to embark on with the characters, such that you refuse to feel anything but terror when they feel it, decline the moments of saccharine relief because you know better, and dart your eyes around the screen wildly, inhaling every scream, jolt, shot, wave, plea, in a silent submission to the poignancy in this ingenious performance.

Lastly, I was absolutely smitten by the performance of the Somalian actors.  For Barkhad Abdi, this film was a breakout debut, and will hopefully lead to an Oscar. The rest of the actors were just as phenomenal, and I could not recommend this movie enough, if only for supporting these incredible people in what I can only imagine were both ethically and artistically complicated endeavours.