Friday, 3 May 2019

Missing [1982]

Portrayal of governmental lies, overreach, oppression, abuse of power and corruption across eras and geographies was a central tenet in Cost-Gavras’ oeuvre, best known for his tour de force political thriller Z. Missing – a tense, compelling and slow-burning adaptation of the eponymous non-fiction book by Thomas Hauser, and set at the epochal moment of the violent coup d'état led by Pinochet that deposed the democratically elected government of hugely popular Socialist leader Salvador Allende and established a fascist junta in its place – was a striking denunciation of American history of engineering such bloody events across Latin America; no wonder, the film was forced out of the US market for over 2 decades. However, it was the human story that made it even more gratifying – ensuring a palpable emotional wallop through a gradual upping of the tension, a pitch-perfect balance between simmering anger and its dramatic expression, and excellent performances led by a truly terrific Jack Lemmon and ably complemented by Sissy Spacek. The story followed the mysterious disappearance of a young American bohemian (John Shea) for his involvement in left-wing politics and for having stumbled upon the information about direct American intervention through his habit of asking questions, and the dogged and frantic search for his whereabouts by his staunchly conservative father (Lemmon) and his non-conformist wife (Spacek). The marvelous contrast between the father and daughter-in-law, albeit bound by a common cause, made the generational conflict an interesting theme, as it did the ensuing political awakening in the old man as he gets to know how the diplomats and bureaucrats, by facilitating a brutal military dictatorship in order to protect “American interests”, led to innumerable deaths, detentions and disappearances.

Director: Costa-Gavras
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Docudrama
Language: English/Spanish
Country: US

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