Review: Missing

Blu-ray: Missing (1982)

When his son goes missing during the Chilean coup, Ed Horman (Jack Lemmon) decides to abandon his useless government, a government Ed trusts to no end, and go to Chile in search of him himself. Joined by his son’s wife, Beth (Sissy Spacek), the two go on a politically charged journey driven on hope. As they uncover more and more about the mysterious circumstances about the disappearance, Ed may be inclined to put a different perspective on the government he reveres so much.

Missing, Directed by Costa-Gavras, is an absolutely excellent film and everything I wanted it to be and then some. Incredibly well realised, every aspect of this film is borderline perfect with no real room for improvement. The sets are peppered with as many dead civilians as heavily armed soldiers. Gunfire slips into the background of great dialogue between well-realised characters feeling as normal as the sound of cars. Expert camerawork showcases horrifying but grounded set-pieces of honest depictions of life in a warzone. A warzone where people still work, take leisure and interact like humans are expected to in such situations. A film is a sum of its parts and all of Missing’s parts work in tandem to create a truly fantastic experience.

To speak more of the set-pieces, I didn’t expect them to not only be so well executed but also imaginative. A scene in which Ed and Beth visit a mass grave is especially harrowing. As they walk through the walls of dead bodies looking for their relative every movement of the camera and edit is a thoroughly considered decision, ending on an especially horrific pan upwards that is sure to send shudders. There are also examples of the beautiful in these too. Scenes in which Beth finds herself begging for help surrounded by mannequins clad in wedding dresses. Or a pale horse running alongside the military. It’s as beautiful as it is haunting. As harrowing as it is grounded and is clearly the work of a filmmaker who knows exactly what they’re doing.

Lemmon and Spacek are incredible in their performances. The old fashioned, set-in-his-centre-right-ways Ed butts heads with idealist but courageous Beth in convincing ways only a chemistry between two actors like this could achieve. Watching them argue in hopes of achieving the same goal was entertaining to watch and seeing them slowly settle their differences with each other was made all the more endearing and heart-warming because of it. It’s an odd-couple relationship you’ve seen before, sure. But the characters are so grounded and relatable in their plight it feels like something the film does exponentially well and well worthy of being one of my many, many praises towards it.

Missing is a fantastic political drama and the sum of all its excellent parts. Beautiful, gripping and downright horrifying when it wants to be, the near ‘stranger in a strange land’ narrative presses all the buttons a film like this should press, then finds new buttons within its weirder but gorgeous sequences that are mirrored by very grounded and realistic story beats. I just can’t sing this film’s praises high enough.

Absolutely not to be missed.

INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
The Guardian Interview with Costa-Gavras (1984, 85 mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Derek Malcolm at London’s National Film Theatre
The Guardian Interview with Jack Lemmon (1986, 116 mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Jonathan Miller at the National Film Theatre
Costa-Gavras: Cannes Film Festival Interview (1982, 3 mins): short interview with the director
Costa-Gavras: Journal Antenne 2 Interview (1982, 4 mins): news article with journalist Christine Ockrent
Many Americas (2006, 31 mins): Costa-Gavras reflects upon the production and reception of the film
Freedom of Information (2006, 27 mins): Joyce Horman discusses the real-life events behind Missing and the experience of being portrayed on screen
Politically Personal (2018, 24 mins): a new filmed appreciation by filmmaker and actor Keith Gordon
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: promotional photography and publicity material
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Michael Pattison, an interview with Costa-Gavras, an interview with journalist Thomas Hauser, an overview of responses to the film, and extensive film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

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Review by Joel from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.