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Daylight Reimagines the Hostage Thriller for a Captive Audience

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Daylight
Directed by David Barker
Cinema Purgatorio
July 15 through 21, The Red Room

Daylight begins with a well-off European couple, Danny and pregnant wife Irene (Aidan Redmond and Alexandra Meierhans), on their way to a wedding in the country. When they wind up, after a wrong turn, waylaid and taken captive by three underclass American roughs, one fears another knockoff of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games—but director David Barker is up to something rather more interesting and precarious than Haneke’s broad satire, or the class-war titillation of subsequent hostage pictures (Kidnapped, Los Bastardos). When Irene is left alone as ransom with two of the kidnappers—rambunctious bipolar simp Renny (Michael Godere) and daddy-figure Leo (Ivan Martin)—the psychological gamesmanship begins. At first a cringing victim, Meierhans soon meets her captors with earnest hazel eyes and, imitating a slender-necked Renaissance Madonna, displays her bulging belly and a renascent Catholicism to play on her tormenters’ repressed tender feelings toward maternity and God. Barker, using the abduction scenario to evoke religious yearning, keeps the intentions of all parties hanging, pendulum-like, while finding new points of entry in every scene. Punctuating views of the bucolic countryside and sky attest to nature or God’s indifference to human suffering, but such formalist touches don’t overwhelm the responsive ensemble work in this resourceful, taboo-prodding sickie.

 
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