The Missing is a somber work by director Ron Howard – a western with ideas. Excellent work by Cate Blanchette and the girl who plays her youngest daughter, Dot. Tommy Lee is good, but how Howard got such performances from these two ladies is a wonder.
There is always something missing in this film, from the old woman’s teeth at the beginning, to the older daughter who is kidnapped, to the father who deserted Maggie (Blanchette) and returns for his own sake as well as a kind of redemption. Takes place in 1885 in New Mexico. Blanchette plays a healer who is Christian. The foe is a renegade Indian scout turned witch. He’s as scary as Blanchette’s Chrisitanity is cold and ambiguous (she sleeps with the hired hand when no one is looking.)
It is about Indians and white people and Mexicans – how the US calvary betrays the Indian scouts, they turn renegade and kidnap white girls to sell south of the border. One subtext is religion and culture. It would be, and might well to do, to parallel this film with current events.This is a film worthy of Clint Eastwood, as theme, landscape and lighting. There is a lot of violence, but the people have souls.
Compare this to Open Range? The Missing is a real movie, with pain, ideas, drama. Open Range is an exercise in method dullness.
Both are too long, but with THE MISSING I didn’t look at my watch for 90 minutes. This is a compliment.