Missing’s Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek make a powerful onscreen duo.
Missing (Criterion, 1982) D: Costa-Gavras, w/ Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek. Rating: NNNNN; DVD package: NNN
Most of the extras here do a fine job of demonstrating the literal truth of the film's events and noting the tremendous boost it gave to the worldwide human rights movement. They do less to explore the film itself as a rich character drama with more tension than most thrillers and powerful resonance between its personal and political levels.
Charlie Horman, an American living in Santiago, disappears during the 1973 Pinochet coup. His father (Jack Lemmon) comes from New York to help his wife (Sissy Spacek) look for him and begins to suspect that the embassy people he relies on for help are covering
Today, there's something dated and implicitly comic about an American who believes in his government, but that gets in the way only briefly.
Lemmon brings such depth and conviction to his role that you're caught up in his every thought, every nuance of grief and anger. Spacek's suppressed rage and terror complement his performance perfectly, making them a powerful onscreen duo.
Costa-Gavras keeps his lens squarely on his characters and lets the horror of mass murder and social breakdown play out in the background: offscreen machine gun fire, bodies sprawled in the streets, the recurring "Are you okay?" that signals anything but. These and Vangelis's spare score create an atmosphere of hopeless terror, effective in itself and contrasting pointedly with the embassy officials' smug sense of safety.
Along with the impressive material on the film's truth and importance, the producer and director interviews cover the film's production history and the creative choices that shaped it.
EXTRAS Disc one: Widescreen. Disc two: director, producers, stars, Joyce Horman (Charlie's widow) interviews, Cannes press conference. Widescreen. English, French audio. English subtitles. Booklet: director interview, critical essay.