Love may come at the most unexpected times and places, as happens to the protagonists of this sweet 1994 crime movie, Captives.
It all begins when young doctor Rachel Clifford, to earn some extra money after her separation from her husband, starts working part-time at a men’s prison.
Indeed, her salary as a dental teacher at the university is not enough, and the sale of their shared house is proceeding slowly with a downward price.
So she agrees to join the staff at this prison infirmary, where they fix the teeth of these petty criminals seeming to cause more problems than others locked up in maximum security facilities.
One of them is Philip Chaney, who has to undergo lengthy therapy because nighttime nervous grinding is ruining his jaw.
He and the doctor immediately become friends, even meeting outside the prison, because the man is near completion of his sentence and holds some permits to conclude a programmer’s evening course.
Rachel is immediately attracted to the friendly and charming prisoner, even visiting him in different makeup to avoid being recognized by the guards.
However, when she discovers that Philip is actually in prison for killing his wife, she begins to doubt about him.
Later, his honesty in recounting the episode pushes her to love him again, deciding to wait until he finishes serving what little remains of his sentence.
Unfortunately, another inmate, a dangerous pusher, discovers their relationship and tries to blackmail them into smuggling drugs into the doctor’s work case.
Philip knows if they indulge in blackmail even once, they will be screwed forever. Yet, the inmate also has an outside friend threatening to harm Rachel.
Since there is no way to reason with these brutal criminals, the only way out is to trick them and hope to survive.
The warmth of sex and life
I admit to not knowing Angela Pope‘s filmography at all, except for this beautiful Captives, a movie that had already captivated my attention in 1994.
It was even more delightful when I recently watched it again, wishing to check whether I liked it back then or my nostalgia remembered more qualities than it actually had.
There was no mistake; this full-fledged romantic movie works perfectly, even because it is embedded in a cold and unsafe environment.
It is precisely this danger and having to secretly play it out to enhance the sexuality of the two gorgeous protagonists, the then 30-year-old Julia Ormond and Tim Roth.
Their attraction is palpable from the first moments, with incredible chemistry moderated by a sweet sadness and regret they both have for the wrong choices in their lives.
However, do not expect the prison setting to be softened in any way because there are no sympathetic prisoners like, for example, Adam Sandler‘s cheerful companions in The Longest Yard.
Likewise, thankfully, there are also no exaggerated comic book villains or excessive cruelty and violence.
In short, we remain in a context of believable humanity, making the immediate passion between the lovers even more vivid and realistic.
Even the one sex scene we see is incredibly sexy and romantic, although it takes place in the dirty toilet of a pub.
I can’t really explain how the photography works in this movie, yet it’s as if the colors always seem very cold and almost desaturated.
Indeed, the only actual colors belong to the characters: the warm and excited faces of the prisoner and the dentist, the black skin of the drug dealer Colin Salmon, and the red blood of his partner Mark Strong in the finale.
What colors are they, though?
Irresistible 90s movie faces
Julia Ormond is lovely as the life itself as Dr. Rachel Clifford, a woman hurt and deceived by a husband who betrayed her.
Bringing this character’s fear and determination to the stage, she creates a compelling blend of emotional contrasts that still works today as it did in the 1990s.
Indeed, even in more recent movies like Rememory, the actress still has the same romantic and nostalgic beauty, a distinctive trademark of her performances.
On the other hand, Tim Roth has a rougher jailbird look, although his manner is gentle and respectful.
From the start, he does not fail to tease the beautiful doctor, turning a dental session into an erotic moment with her fingers on his lips.
Don’t think he’s a helpless kid because when other comrades attack him in the bathroom, he defends himself by brutally beating the crap out of them without the slightest problem.
As mentioned, in addition to the romantic side, the crime aspect of this story also runs flawlessly, and this is where the cruel drug dealer Colin Salmon comes in.
We stay in a human-sized villain; however, who understands too late and with great fear, he has gone too far with the lady doctor in front of her lover’s backlash.
I feel a little sorry for Mark Strong‘s character instead. Not because he is not good at playing him, but he may need more background in his relationship with Salmon to be really interesting.
However, the actor will showcase his talents in the future, for example, as a faithful handyman in the outstanding Kingsman action espionage saga.
The essence of this 1994 movie is all in these four characters, played by an excellent poker of actors giving their best to make Captives a delightful and biting blend of eroticism and danger.