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USA 2009
Directed by
Noel Buschel
91 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Missing Person

Taken at face value, not that I'm saying that there's more to it than this, The Missing Person is a modern day film noir about a Chicago private eye, John Rosow (Michael Shannon), with a drinking problem who is asked by an anonymous lawyer to track down a missing person. As Rosow needs the money he doesn't ask too many questions. His search takes him on a road trip to LA and beyond where he eventually finds his man, Harold Fullmer (Frank Wood) who, it turns out, has used his survival of the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack to start a new life. During all this Rosow tries to hook up romantically with the lawyer's secretary, Miss Charlie (Amy Ryan, who also gets a co-producer credit).

The contemporary narrative context with its cell phones and Google searches is all well and good but instead of matching this formally, writer-director Buschel drapes it lovingly in the stylistic trappings of a 1940s noir and keeps Shannon locked in a near-hallucinatory state of phlegmatic suspension (Tom Waits  might have written the script). The result is refreshingly original, intriguing for the way it plays with the much-loved genre even in places recalling the noir-spoofing humour of the Coens’ black comedy, The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).  It's quite a tasty brew even if at times slightly perplexing and for lovers of the offbeat at least The Missing Person will have its rewards.




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