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Held captive in a brutal prison for the criminally insane, primatologist Ethan Powell (Anthony Hopkins), has not spoken in the three years since his incarceration for killing poachers in the jungles of Rwanda. When he is remanded to psychiatrist Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr.) for assessment, Powell begins to respond, and turns the tables on the young medic with lessons in life, some of them learned from the gorillas he lived with. Powell’s broken relationship with his daughter, Lyn (Maura Tierney) and the ferocious incident in the jungle, are just two of the pieces of his mental jigsaw that Caulder has to try and fit, in an attempt to rehabilitate the great man, all the while fighting the unbending prison system and its brutal inhabitants.

"Moving and powerful, Instinct is an insightful glimpse into society, its boundaries, confines and limitations. It takes you on an exhilarating journey into the soul, and explores the cages within which we live. What is freedom, if not a state of mind? Are we slaves to society within the roles that we set ourselves? At times reminiscent of aspects of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, we enter a world where men are caged, mistreated, medicated and their spirits deflated. And like that memorable film, Instinct's central character Ethan Powell (Hopkins is superb – exhibiting his command and range) has the ability not only to change the people around him, but to influence the way they perceive themselves and their lives. It is a film of splendid performances, not only from the key players of Hopkins and Gooding, but also showcasing an exceptional score by Danny Elfman, which contributes greatly; his score is strident, magnificent, melodic, ethereal and moving. The script, however, is not without its flaws; there are aspects that have been glossed over and Hollywood-ed. I refer specifically to the ending, as well the incomplete aspects about Powell's relationships with both his wife and daughter. But that aside, Instinct is a highly enjoyable film. It is engrossing, involving and offers food for thought on issues that are relevant to us all. Worth seeing for the performances alone - Cuba Gooding's best role since Jerry Maguire."
Louise Keller

"Instinct has potential but ends up with pretension as it struggles to find its significance in a concept carried out with great technical and even emotional prowess, but signifying less than it purports to. That it’s not weighty enough may seem a pompous thing to say, but the film does present itself with gravitas and a sense of majesty (certainly true of Danny Elfman’s superb score) which, for me, it fails to deliver in the subject matter. Powell’s character is not well worked out, his wife doesn’t seem to have ever existed, his relationship with his daughter is tokenistically traumatic and weakly resolved, his swings from mute inmate to enlightened humanist and animalist is unconvincing, and the secret he is supposed to harbour is a bit of a cliché. For all that, I actually enjoyed the film; it is thoroughly likeable on its basic entertainment level, with Hopkins in fine, albeit not unfamiliar form, and Cuba Gooding showing his dramatic potential. There are superb gorilla effects (from Oscar winning Stan Winston) and some (not enough) great panoramic views – shot in Jamaica but meant to be Rwanda. If in retrospect the film starts to disintegrate, it is still worth the ticket price for the two hours of escape."
Andrew L. Urban

"Instinct is a deceptive film. From the outset, one is unsure where it's heading, but once it gets going, you're in for one of the most compelling and powerful films of the year. It's a film that explores the notion of freedom and the animal buried within us. What makes us primal? To what extent has humankind truly evolved? Such are the true complexities of this brilliant work, a movie that takes the viewer on extreme emotional journeys, journeys of violence, wry humour and passion. It's a deeply intellectual film, yet cinematically breathtaking, it's a film that is poetic yet philosophical. It is this sense of contrast that makes Instinct one of the most unexpected surprises of the year, a meticulously crafted work from a filmmaker whose previous credits don't prepare us for the maturity and depth of his latest work. The film also boasts one of the finest performances of the year, from Anthony Hopkins: riveting and electrifying, his indomitable presence is one of the many extraordinary facets of this film, while Cuba Gooding holds his own, giving a meticulously restrained performance as the psychiatrist. Instinct is a film that covers a lot of territory, but it does so with fastidious detail and emotional depth. It's a film that is not what one expects, and it's two hours swims by. A masterful study of how far we've regressed in 10,000 years, Instinct is a remarkable and compelling film."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Donald Sutherland, Mauray Tierney, George Dzundza, John Ashton

DIRECTOR: Jon Turtletaub

PRODUCERS: Michael Taylor, Barbara Boyle

SCRIPT: Gerald DiPego (suggested by the novel Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn)


EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce ACE

MUSIC: Danny Elfman



RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: February 25, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Entertainment Feb 25

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