Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Movie of the Month, Part 17: The Missing Person

Movie of the Month: Part 17

I recently reviewed the
following film for Video
, and thought the
results were worth sharing.

(Noah Buschel, US,
2009, 95 mins.)

Top-lined by two Oscar
nominees and dipped in
dusky shades of gold and
brown, The Missing
delivers a styl-
ish take on the private-
eye genre. The efficient Miss Charley (Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone) sets the story in motion when she hires gin-soaked pri-
vate investigator John Rosow (Michael Shannon, Revolution-
ary Road
) to trail Harold Fullmer (Frank Wood), a mystery
man traveling across the country with a Mexican boy.

On Rosow's assignment to return Harold to his wife, he tracks him
by train from Chicago to Los Angeles, both cities existing in a sort
of timeless space, neither past nor present (Rosow digs old-school
jazz, but lives in a world filled with cell phones and Segways). On
his journey to the West and back, he discovers that Fullmer went
missing after 9/11; Rosow turns out to have secrets of his own.

Like Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (or Robert Altman's The
Long Goodbye)
, writer/director Noah Buschel’s third feature
conjures up a tone so off-kilter, it sometimes slides into surreal-
ism, as when the dyspeptic detective dreams about a woman
who may not actually exist, but Rosow is no Mike Hammer
tough guy—he's smarter and more sensitive than that.

If the eventual explanation for his unusual behavior doesn't
completely satisfy, Margaret Colin (Gossip Girl) as a sly se-
ductress and John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos) as a Serpico-
obsessed cabbie help to make The Missing Person an en-
joyable outing for fans of noir and character pieces alike.

It also proves that Michael Shannon is ready for more star-
ring roles after a string of strong supporting parts in mov-
ies like Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Bad Lieu-
tenant: Port of Call New Orleans
. Highly recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part 16: The Beaches of Agn├Ęs

Endnote: Slightly revised from the original text.
For more Shannon reviews, click the links for Shot-
gun Stories
The Runaways, and My Son, My Son,
What Have Ye Don
. Cinematographique image.

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