Film review: Captive

Steve Hogarty
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Cert 12A | ★★

Perhaps the strangest detail in the true story of recovering addict Ashley Smith’s seven-hour captivity at the hands of escaped killer Brian Nichols is the moment in which her captor dips into her stash of crystal meth.
Captive ends with a snippet from a 2006 interview between Smith and Oprah, in which this incident is recounted to the host. “Jesus loves you, girl,” is Oprah’s response, bringing to mind the image of Christ presiding over the meth hoovering with an approving look etched on his holy face.
It’s the sort of scene you couldn’t write, and Captive is littered with these oddly framed depictions of real world events that defy cinema logic. Murderous fugitives, especially the brain-spangled ones, don’t tend to make sensible decisions, and the film struggles to extract much meaning or sense from the few scenes it has to work with. When it does, it does so with interventions from the man upstairs, as Smith recites passages from God-bothering bestseller The Purpose Driven Life in an effort to self-help her captor towards redemption.
Faith is as flimsy a cinematic solution as they come however, and Captive’s religious framing of a series of otherwise senseless acts feels neither authentic, honest nor satisfying.

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