‘The Missing’ Is All There
By Rebecca Redshaw
Sometimes a three minute trailer “oversells” a movie, alas, including all the good parts. That makes for a tough two hours if you buy into the advertising. Director Ron Howard’s THE MISSING is absolutely the exception to this rule.
In spite of the scene selections in the trailer (but because of Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett), I plunked down the price of a matinee and was treated to one of the best movie experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Set in the 19th century and based on the novel THE LAST RIDE, THE MISSING establishes the hard life of Maggie [Blanchett] on the prairie. She’s raising two daughters more or less on her own when her father, Samuel [Jones], comes back into her life. He deserted the family when she was a young girl and Maggie tells him to be on his way in no uncertain terms.
But when her daughters don’t come home after an outing with trusted hired hands and legitimate means to rally support from the local sheriff are exhausted, Maggie turns to her father for help.
THE MISSING is the kind of suspense film that the less you know about the plot the better, so more story details in this review will not be forthcoming.
What is important to note is the depth of character that both Jones and Blanchett explore. Jones brings a crusty charm to Samuel who, when questioned by his daughter about deserting the family, offers no good explanation. Even his return to her life is for selfish reasons. Hearing an honest, but flawed, man offer no apologies for his behavior is refreshing.
Blanchett is an amazing actress. At no time does the image of her future as a major motion picture star get in the way of her earthy portrayal. Hardly a damsel in distress, she is an equal to Jones’ toughness.
Beautifully photographed by Salvatore Totino on location in New Mexico, the action is moved along by James Horner’s driving musical score.
But credit the success of THE MISSING to Ron Howard. He has a number of impressive directorial credits but with this intriguing western saga and this ideal cast, he’s raised the storytelling bar.