DSAW - Focus (Germany) - 17 January 2002

Last Update: 03 February 2002

Translated by Evi Finsterer

The kidnapping thriller "Sag' kein Wort" (Don't Say a Word) chases Michael Douglas into any father's nightmare

A man's voice whispers threatfully on the phone: "We have your daughter!" The apartment is video monitored, contact to the world outside is prohibited. For his new psychothriller Don't Say A Word, director Gary Fleder decided on the most classical of all thriller opening sequences: Chaos invades the idyl, innocent people are drawn into a stream of extortion and violence, and the kidnapping turns out to be part of a wicked plan.

It is the happy family life of renowed youth psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Conrad (Michael Douglas) that breaks up. Since his wife is confined to bed because of a broken leg, he plans to celebrate Thanksgiving at> home with her and 8 year old daughter Jessie. But in the morning Jessie is missing, kidnapped from her parents' apartment. The boss of the kidnappers (GoldenEye baddie Sean Bean) doesn't want ransom from Dr. Conrad, instead his professional help: He should get a number code out of one of his patients by 5:00pm that day.

"Don't say a word, if you want your daughter back!" This phrase becomes the motto of the movie:

Jessie's parents can't confide to police, because they fear for her life. And because of fear 18 year old Elizabeth (Brittany Murphy) withdraws from all attempts of Dr. Conrad to talk with her: "You want what they want, don't you? I'll never tell ... any of you." Silence and suppression, Elizabeth is trapped in this evil circle since her childhood.

A collage of bits and pieces from her past, the strangest and saddest scenes of the movie, finally reveals Elizabeth's trauma: As a child she was witness to her father's death by a subway train. The $10 million diamond, that he had stolen from his companions, was meanwhile hidden in her doll. She had managed to smuggle that into her fathers grave - a grave not marked with a name, only with a six-diget number.

DSAW is a solid crime thriller, that deals less with action and hostility, more with empathy and compassion with the estranged parents and with their children who innocently become playballs of strange interests. Despite the film title, the one who finally breaks the silence, doesn't have to stay a victim forever.

Katharina Neff, Focus

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