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Douglas’s “Tiff Review: Prisoners” Redefines Analysis... Incorrectly

In response to Edward Douglas’s 963‑word review of Prisoners on

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With “TIFF Review: Prisoners,” Edward Douglas presents his review in three acts: “Story,” “Analysis,” and “The Bottom Line.” The distinction is arbitrary, though, as Douglas provides a great deal of story in the “Analysis” section. Too much in fact, giving away more than much of his audience is likely going to want to read.

While not explicitly spelled out, enough is said about the ending of the movie to anger those who like their reviews spoiler-free. And really, if a writer has to draw a big outline around his conclusion with big, neon arrows pointing to it (or title it “The Bottom Line,” as the case may be) then he is probably not doing his job right.

Many of the same notes are hit here that you’ll find in other reviews: references to the movies Mystic River and Zodiac, discussion of the “moody tone” of the movie and the intense performances of the actors (although Douglas seems less impressed by those performances than others), an offhanded comment about cinematographer Roger Deakins’s previous Oscar nomination (it must have been mentioned somewhere in the press materials). It doesn’t seem like much thought went into anything here, despite the review’s length.

The bottom line: “TIFF Review: Prisoners” is clumsy and frustrating. A less-is-more approach would have served Douglas well here, especially when it comes to discussing the film’s plot.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation