When an idealistic American writer disappears during the Chilean coup d'état in September 1973, his wife and father try to find him.When an idealistic American writer disappears during the Chilean coup d'état in September 1973, his wife and father try to find him.When an idealistic American writer disappears during the Chilean coup d'état in September 1973, his wife and father try to find him.
Govras chose as background for his film the actual diaries of Charles Horman, a lefty artist type who was living with his wife Beth in Chile. Horman had apparently picked up the unfortunate habit of inquiring into some dangerous affairs in a rather loud way. Isolated in every sense from any "live" political current, his disappearance and murder were relatively easy to accomplish, even though he was a United States citizen. The actor John Shea portrays Charles Horman as a naive sort, and there is no reason to assume this was an inaccurate depiction. Most citizens of the United States overseas are sheltered from the skulduggery of realpolitik, and most cling to some rather dangerous illusions about how far their rights as citizens actually extend. U.S. citizens in Lebanon who had to pay for their removal from that combat front last summer have learned this the hard way recently.
Jack Lemmon is stellar as Charles' father Ed Horman, who made the trip to Chile under the impression that he had rights his government felt bound to respect, and who discovered otherwise. And Cissy Spacek is never anything less than full marks as Beth Horman.
MISSING accomplishes what few political dramas do. It asks its viewer to consider the human dimensions and costs of an imperial political reality, and it portrays with a deadly earnestness what these ideas do to people caught up in the sway of such notions. There are no monsters in MISSING, just people who are doing their jobs and following orders. And therein lies the horror, one which all too many of our fellow citizens have yet to come to grips with. It is a rare feat among political films, an actual work of art. But don't be surprised if you need a stiff drink after viewing it. That's how I felt when I first saw this work after its release in 1982, and it still has that effect upon me today.
- Sep 12, 2006