Rachel Clifford (Julia Ormond) is a dentist who has just divorced her unfaithful husband, Simon (Peter Capaldi). Feeling directionless, Rachel shocks her posh friends by getting a part-time job as the dentist at Wadsworth Prison, the toughest and most notorious prison in Britain. While most of the inmates in the all-male prison harass and proposition the attractive Rachel, she forms an unlikely friendship with Phil (Tim Roth), a sensitive inmate who is doing time for killing his previous girlfriend. Phil and Rachel are both captives, Phil of the legal system and Rachel of her upper class existence. With Phil getting weekly day releases so that he can take computer classes, he and Rachel become lovers outside of the prison walls. When prison kingpin Tower (Colin Salmon) finds out about their affair, he attempts to blackmail both of them.
A British film which I don’t think ever got much attention in the U.S., Captives is a romantic drama that works because Julia Ormond and Tim Roth both give good performances and share a spark of passion. Captives is one of the few films that could actually make a hookup in a public restroom seem romantic. It’s just too bad that, after such a strong start, the movie gets bogged down in melodrama during the final twenty minutes.