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On the eve of Christmas, an urbane, loutish and acidly cynical Montreal radio talk-show host is taken hostage in his own studio by a band of crusading terrorists who want a new on-the-air trial of a comrade they feel was wrongly convicted. For collateral, the terrorists have also taken hostage his rich wife and mentally retarded son in their own home. The listening audience shall act as the jury and phone in their verdicts. As the trial progresses, disembodied voices, Christmas hymns, religious imagery, one of the terrorists relating the story of "The Wind in the Willows," the voice of a child singing "Come All Ye Faithful" in Latin reflect the psyche of the characters in moments of truth. All the while, the talk-show host must sustain the role of grand showman and project his wit and cavalierness to the listening audience, despite the tense situation. Captor and captive engage in a furious battle of wits. Written by
The film was played at the London Film Festival in 1984. This engagement was followed by a special Six of One reception at the London ICA. Six of One is an association for fans of the TV show The Prisoner (1967). See more »
The reflection of two crew members are briefly seen just before Margaret Trudeau enters an elevator towards the beginning of the film. See more »
The Prisoner's Pat McGoohan and Alexis Kanner reunite
Slow boil. That's how I would describe this Canadian drama/thriller.This is not an action movie as much as it is a battle of wits sort of like Sleuth. I could easily imagine this story being performed on stage with the setting being John Kingsley's studio.
Like any fan of the classic surrealistic torrent of a TV show, The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan's show ran for 17 episodes. It ended in a sea of controversy because it refused to follow the conventions of storytelling. Alexis Kanner appeared in three different episodes of that show. His characters were wild, unpredictable and boyishly devious. McGoohan thought enough about Kanner to have him return for the series finale which was filmed a year after it's predecessor leading up to it. McGoohan directed Kanner and now in Kings and Desperate Men, Kanner is directing McGoohan.
The film uses audio a lot in the beginning and frankly, it's a little frantic and disorientating not knowing who is speaking. If you listen carefully later, you are able to put faces to the voices. This is an enigmatic beginning to any film.
The story revolves around a British radio talk show host, living in Canada, who himself/his wife, his son and his radio show are all held hostage. Also being held hostage is a judge who sentenced a man to jail for 15 years. His crime was vehicular manslaughter. The, let's call them domestic terrorists, either acting out of friendship fr the convicted man, or revenge on his behalf, or out of some political motive seize the people and the show to hold a 'public trial' of the man who was sentenced to 15 years.
Now, like any movie or theater project led by an actor, the story is fueled heavily by the characters. Much of the story is a battle of wits between the ringleader of the terrorists, Lucas Miller played by Alexis Kanner (in one of his last appearances in front of the camera) and the radio host Kinglsey played by McGoohan.
The movie also features the then wife of the then PM of Canada, Margaret Trudeau. Andrea Marcovicci who, I frankly know her best from The Stuff is memorable as one of the six terrorists. Her character is somewhat of a loose cannon much like Frank Moore's portrayal. He played one of the terrorists also.
If you have an appreciation for these actors already (especially Prisoner fans) you will find this movie to be a treat. If you enjoy a somewhat out of left field psychological thriller then you will find this to be a treat also. There's enough eccentricities and black humor to make the near 2 hours pleasurable and rewarding.
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