Thursday 4 May 2023

Missing (2023)

Another film in the “screen life” format (you watch events unfold, for the most part, on a computer screen), Missing is from the people who brought you Searching. If you liked that film then you should like this. It isn’t quite as good as that film, and I think the gimmick will be harder to maintain for any future thrillers, but it’s enjoyable enough.

Storm Reid plays June, a young woman rolling her eyes as her mother (Nia Long) gets read to go on holiday with her new boyfriend (Ken Leung). June just wants to enjoy her time at home alone, and maybe a big party or two, but she starts to immediately worry when the pair don’t return for the pre-determined time when June is scheduled to pick them up from the airport. Making calls and starting her own investigation, June is able to connect with Javi (Joaquim de Almeida), an oddjob worker who lives in the country where her mother was last seen alive, and her own investigation seems to progress faster than the official police investigation.

With Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty credited with the story for this one (after both writing the script for Searching together), which was directed by Chaganty, it’s up to Nick Johnson and Will Merrick to co-direct their co-written script in a way that doesn’t completely drop the ball. While constrained by the format, they fudge things slightly to keep everything moving along in the narrative without transforming into another type of film entirely. I don’t think they’re entirely successful though. It’s been a few years now since I saw Searching (when it was released in cinemas), but I remember that, for better or worse, feeling as if it was able to adhere a bit more rigidly to the format. 

The plus point is the plotting though, with a number of enjoyable twists and turns that will have viewers reconsidering their opinion a number of times on how events may have unfolded. A number of details are nicely sprinkled throughout every scene, and there are only a few moments that will have you exasperated by something obvious overlooked by the main character.

Reid is very good in the role of June, doing well in a tough role that requires her to be onscreen for the vast majority of the runtime, even if she is just clicking through and observing various video clips. Long and Leung are both fine, and obviously not onscreen for too long, but it’s Almeida who you will remember once the film is over. His character is a ray of sunshine, and he actually gets a decent little narrative arc of his own, even as he helps to progress the main plot and help our desperate lead. Although not as sunshiney, the same applies to a character played by Amy Landecker, who may or may not be involved in the disappearance of June’s mother. There’s also a small role for Tim Griffin, playing June’s father, and his scene at the very start of the film helps to show the impact he had on the lives of his wife and daughter.

Perhaps a film that will inevitably work better when watched on your own computer, compared to a cinema screen, Missing is a decent little thriller that will work for those who can accept the genre trappings being dressed up with modern tech and tech-savviness.


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