November 26th, 2003

Review – The Missing

I just got back from an early (by one day, woo-hoo!) screening of The Missing, Ron Howard‘s new movie. It stars Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones and is set in 1885, if memory serves me correctly. Cate plays a frontier doctor who has obviously had a rough life, and TLJ plays her estranged father who left the family when she was young to go and live with the Indians. One of Cate’s two daughters is kidnapped, and she asks TLJ to help her rescue her daughter.

If you’re expecting a “journey towards renewal of faith in family,” you’re kind of correct, but not really. It really seems to me to be more of a “character movie,” by which I mean “a movie that is more about the characters than about the plot.” And that can be a good thing. It definitely is here. Cate and TLJ both sink into their roles so well that you forget you’ve seen them elsewhere. Cate’s tough-as-nails-but-loving-mother is a far cry from her Galadriel in Fellowship of the Rings. I had to be reminded afterwards that she was British – her decidedly non-British accent seemed so effortless that I was surprised when I remembered that, oh, yeah, she is British!

And if you’re going to get a craggy-faced actor to portray an American Indian wannabe, please get Tommy Lee Jones. He not only looked the part, he played the part so well that you forgot all about him wise-cracking with Will Smith in MIB. I have yet to be disappointed with him in a role.

If I had not known, I would not have been able to tell you this was a Ron Howard film – that is, of course, until his brother Clint showed up on screen. Ron has taken many chances with his directing, and he seems equally at ease with a Western as he did with Backdraft and Apollo 13. It’s nice to see Opie Taylor turn out okay, isn’t it?

All in all, a good film. Not an Oscar winner or one you must see, but a good film. Good, solid film. Parents, there are some scenes of violence (lots of gunfights) and some rough language that wouldn’t make this suitable for kids…but they probably wouldn’t be all that interested, anyway.

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