Review: The Missing Person
PLOT: John Rosow is a private detective. One dark night he receives a phone call asking him to track an older man. Once he decides to take the case, he finds that the man he is following seems to be a pedophile, as he is traveling with a young boy that is clearly not his own. But the closer Rosow gets to his target, he finds that there is something very different going on, something that goes all the way back to the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers many years ago.
Detective stories are an interesting breed. The PIís are usually social misfits and drink way too much. They live their lives in shadows and follow closely behind their prey, but not too close. Oftentimes, the stories are told in black and white, maybe with a little red thrown in for good measure. And with Noah Buschelís latest, THE MISSING PERSON, he uses all of the intricacies of a good film noir, but there is something missing that you might not expect. This detective is hired by a mysterious voice on the phone along with the strangerís lovely assistant who takes it upon herself to visit Detective Rosowís apartment. She offers him a file with necessary information, and a lot of cash with promises of more to come. But there is no clear villain here, no shady fellow with a thin mustache who is just playing the anti-hero for fun.
Michael Shannon is the detective in question. He is brooding, funny and living an empty life. All of this gives him the will to make inappropriate passes at the woman who brings him the money (Amy Ryan). He has lost faith in life, in people and pretty much everything else. But there is a spark in him. Shannon is a classic sort of actor. And as John Rosow, he exudes the essence of this character. His low growl of a voice and his uneasy smile when a lady is near, it is a powerful performance. What is especially interesting is how he connects with each of the characters he happens upon. On of the most exciting sequences involves a lovely older woman named Lana (the wonderfully talented Margaret Colin). The two spark a very strange bit of chemistry that is surprisingly touching.
Noah Buschel plays by the rules on many levels. The Missing Person is an atmospheric and dark little noir that simply tells the story. Itís not too artsy and not terribly unique. Yet the script, also by Noah, is not so simple. He reveals just enough as we follow Rosowís path, the people he meets and the discoveries he makes. Slowly, we find that the mystery involves a man who has been missing since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. While the beginning seems to promise a very grim and repulsive story, it slowly unfolds into something completely different. But this is where the beauty lies. With such a wonderful performance from Shannon, he inhabits this world that is unexpected and along with him we learn what the secret truly is. Without giving anything away, it is certainly unexpected, and also, quite sad.
And while The Missing Person is slow and precise, it is not quite a bleak as all of this sounds. There is a strong sense of humor spread throughout. I especially loved the relationship between Ryan and Shannon. The constant flirting between the two, well, mostly his flirting, is a refreshing change from the sea of lost souls that Rosow seems to be drowning in. The opening sequence with the detective alone, in bed, is a very telling bit of imagery. There is a whole lot of loneliness within The Missing Person, that it is far more of a human drama than any kind of thriller. Yet even still, this is absolutely noir in its classic sense.
As much as I appreciated the beauty here, I did have one sort of large issue. And that would be the sometimes overly dark transfer. At least the copy I watched was quite literally too dark during much of the film. I hope that this will not be a problem if you are seeing this on the big screen, but what I saw, it could of really used a little bit of light. Hopefully, the theatrical version will look a little better. Now this really is a minor complaint as I really enjoyed The Missing Person. With a powerful script and a superb performance by Michael Shannon, I highly recommend this original motion picture. My rating 8.5/10 -- JimmyO