A snowy labyrinth of anguish and detective work, the kidnapping drama "The Captive" is Atom Egoyan's latest stab at arty, dignified pulp.
A wintry Niagara Falls is the backdrop for a time-shifting saga (written by Egoyan and David Fraser) in which grief-stricken parents Matt (Ryan Reynolds) and Tina (Mireille Enos) can't get over the abduction nine years prior of their grade-school daughter Cassandra, and dedicated cops Nicole (Rosario Dawson) and Jeff (Scott Speedman) keep pursuing the case.
The locked-away Cass, meanwhile, has grown into a cultured teenager (Alexia Fast) with a measure of emotional power over the wealthy pedophile captor (Kevin Durand) who is no longer attracted to her. What starts out teasingly moody, however, about the ramifications of a horrible incident — shades of "The Sweet Hereafter," still Egoyan's best film — becomes baroque and ludicrous as the Hitchcockian scenario loses its psychological bearings in a web of trashy plot twists and self-conscious jumps in time.
Although Reynolds rises above the rest as a father consumed by sadness and anger, "The Captive" quickly devolves into scenes that feel like stilted dramatic re-creations demanding a noirish voice-over by "Cold Case Files" host Bill Kurtis.
MPAA rating: R for language and violence.
Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Royal, West Los Angeles.