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Scott Foundas’s “Telluride Film Review: ‘Prisoners’” Takes Too Long to Get to the Criticism

In response to Scott Foundas’s 1173‑word review of Prisoners on Variety

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Five of the first seven paragraphs of Scott Foundas’s “Telluride Film Review: ‘Prisoners’” are almost entirely exposition, describing key plot points that the audience would be better off learning on their own. It becomes an uncomfortable game of chicken for the reader, who is forced to constantly wonder if the next sentence is going to be the one that spoils the whole movie.

Once the exposition is over and Foundas settles into some actual criticism for the review’s final four paragraphs, many readers may have already run for the hills.

This is a shame, because the actual criticism part of the review is quite well-written. He touches on the movie’s themes, the quality of its acting, and even its accompanying score, and makes quick but effective points about each of them in order to paint a picture of the movie as a whole. These are the sorts of things one reads a review hoping to see, rather than being subjected to an ersatz script treatment.

If Foundas had cut the word count of “Telluride Film Review: ‘Prisoners’” in half, he might have had a really solid piece of criticism on his hands. Unfortunately, not enough was left on the editing room floor to save this overly-long, spoiler-ridden disappointment.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation