Cannes Film Festival 2014: Palme d’Or contender 'The Captive' has echoes of Madeleine McCann case

Ryan Reynolds and Mireille Enos star as parents whose daughter is abducted

A  film inspired by the case of a missing child in Canada and which has parallels with the story of Madeleine McCann has received its premiere in Cannes.

The Captive explores what happens when a young girl, Cass, is kidnapped from her family’s car as her father, played by Ryan Reynolds, is buying a pie in a diner. The tragedy splits the family and also has a significant impact on investigating detectives.

Director Atom Egoyan, whose previous work includes Where the Truth Lies, said the film was based on the story of a little boy who vanished from a park in the Canadian town where he was raised. “I know the park, I know where he went missing, I know the mother just turned her back for a moment,” he said. “The parents are still invested in this, believing that the child is there and the child will return.”

The girl’s mother, played by Mireille Enos, cannot forgive her husband for what happens. But Egoyan said: “You know it as a parent, there are often times when you leave your child alone.”

Reynolds, best known for comedy roles, said research suggested families were usually torn apart by such tragedies.

And he paid tribute to Kevin Durand, who plays the kidnapper, for taking on “the most difficult role in the film”, saying:  “I don’t know if I would have been up to the challenge.”

Durand said: “I was terrified, horrified and honoured that Atom saw me as a perfect fit for this character.”

Dawson expressed “huge respect” for police who carry out work into missing children and paedophilia. But most predators were not how people imagined them to be. “Evil doesn’t look like someone standing in the corner with a moustache,” he said.

Enos said she could not imagine being in limbo for nine years like her character. But she said: “There are so many people who live through these tragedies who never see their children again.”

The Captive is one of 18 films competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or. Being screened, but not competing, is How to Train Your Dragon 2 starring Cate Blanchett.