Missing (1982) Poster

(1982)

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9/10
Powerful political thriller
jhaggardjr13 August 2000
"Missing" is a strong, powerful political thriller about the real life story of a man and woman who search for their missing son/husband during the 1973 coup in a volatile South American country. Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek give brilliant, Oscar-nominated performances as Ed and Beth Horman, the father and wife of their beloved one who has disappeared without a trace. The film follows their frustrating search in a country (which is Chile even though the movie never reveals) that I would not dare live in. Things get more frustrating for the Hormans when they start to believe that the American representatives there are not telling them everything. Directed by Costa-Gavras ("Z"), "Missing" is an emotional film that keep me interested for its entire two hours. Lemmon and Spacek are great as usual, and there are supporting roles for Melanie Mayron and Joe Regalbuto, a couple of years before they turned up on TV's "Thirtysomething" and "Murphy Brown", respectably. "Missing" is one of the best, strongest political thrillers ever made.

***1/2 (out of four)
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9/10
Propulsive, Real-Life Political Thriller Shows Costa-Gavras and Lemmon at Their Peak
EUyeshima19 October 2006
Accomplished Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras has a compelling way of bringing the emotional resonance out of stories with overtly political themes. He hits the mail on the head with this searing indictment of American involvement in the 1973 military coup that ejected Allende from power in Chile. Facts are not discretely presented, even the country in which the story takes place is not disclosed (except for specific references to the cities of Santiago and Vina Del Mar). Yet, Costa-Gavras creates an atmosphere of palpable tension that doesn't let up in this 1982 film, and the unraveling mystery at the heart of the movie echoes the unsettling political situation surrounding the characters.

Adapted by Costa-Gavras and Donald Stewart from Thomas Hauser's non-fiction book documenting the true case, the plot focuses on American expatriate Charles Horman whose sudden disappearance in the days after the Pinochet coup brings together two familial adversaries, his wife Beth and his father Ed, who has flown in from New York. Charles and Beth had been leading a vagabond existence with his work in children's animation and their relatively passive support of Allende's reform measures. Charles' back story is revealed in carefully constructed flashback episodes that show him to be curious about the presence of U.S. military personnel in the area. Once he disappears, Ed and Beth seek help from the U.S. Consulate but face a seemingly insurmountable wall of bureaucracy. Frustrated, Ed, a highly conservative Christian Scientist, lashes out at Beth for what he considers her undesirable influence over his son. However, as they absorb the scope of the violence and the culpability of the U.S. government, they bond intractably toward their objective of finding Charles.

For once, Jack Lemmon, unafraid to convey his character's prejudices, is able to use his neurotically coiled energy in a suitable dramatic role as Ed. The result is a startlingly raw performance that ranks among his best. Sissy Spacek is terrific as Beth, though her character does not experience as big an arc of self-revelation. In the elliptical flashback role of Charles, John Shea provides solid support, as do Janice Rule as a political activist and a number of familiar TV faces - Melanie Mayron as friend Terry and David Clennon as U.S. consul Phil Putnam, both from "thirtysomething", and Joe Regalbuto, Frank from "Murphy Brown", playing another Frank, a possible victim of the coup. There are unfortunately no extras with the 2004 DVD.
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8/10
Still a powerful film, and still, depressingly, very relevant
davetex14 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I caught this film on television recently and was pulled in and had to watch to the end again. I have probably seen it twice before.

"Missing" is a powerful, fascinating movie that captures the hypocrisy and hubris of certain elements of US foreign policy and the reaction of the innocent public who get run over by such policies with searing clarity.

Jack Lemmon was never better in a dramatic role than in this film, to my mind. The neurotic tics and flip outs that he typically used in a dramatic role are restrained or non existent and his performance is perfect as the upstanding citizen who slowly comes to the realization that his own country, which he loves profoundly, likely had a hand in the death of his only son. Very, very impressive performance from an old pro.

Sissy Spacek as his daughter in law is also very good. I find her utterly believable in her role. She exudes a complex blend of strength, kindness, love and cynicism without ever having a false note. Very good as well.

The two leads are important, well casted and well acted, but the movie wouldn't work without the assorted cast members who play the US embassy officials. Exuding exactly the right amount of bureaucratic indifference disguised with polite helpfulness, shady sleaze wrapped in procedural rituals and ultimately, blatant ruthless expediency, all while making casual jokes, this collection of good old boys do a perfect job and are a chilling bunch.

I note as well that the film has aged very well. The styles are 70s but the film has taken on more of a documentary feel with the passage of time instead of that 70s flashback feel you get from other thrillers set in that period.

In addition, the direction is more focused and the story telling better than in some other films of a similar nature (I am thinking in particular of Syriana).

Bravo. A great film. Watch it. And then wonder if anyone has learned anything in the 35 years since the events documented went down.
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9/10
best example ever of a character making a change
drystyx26 December 2006
Jack Lemmon portrays a father searching for his son, whom he think has fallen in with a group of naive liberal thinkers. By the end of the movie, Lemmon's character realizes he had fallen in with a group of naive conservative thinkers. This movie portrays the odyssey of the father searching for a missing son in an unstable foreign country. He believes in the powers of the American embassy to protect all Americans. He believes everyone who keeps his nose clean is left alone. He believes in the power of the American people. The movie allows us to feel with him with its careful directing, and to feel for the other characters close to him and his son. We don't choose sides in the movie. We just hold back the tears, knowing that sadness looms, and obviously the father knows sadness looms, too. The religious beliefs, occupation, and history of the father are played down and unimportant. We are left to realize how unimportant it all is when looking for a loved one whom we feel is not in good fortune. A lot of movies claim to change a character in their film, but they're always left to resort to extreme exposition, usually even making the character proclaim that he or she has changed, and more often than not it isn't believable. This movie makes you believe. It is the best example ever of a character making a change throughout a movie.
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10/10
Excellent
JasparLamarCrabb6 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
MISSING is an excellent movie telling the story of American businessman Ed Horman and his struggle to recover his son, who vanished during a coup in Chile in the 1970s. Jack Lemmon is Horman and he's brilliant...he's mannered yes, but his "acting" is perfect for this role...you feel his frustration with both the US and the Chilean governments. He encounters endless bureaucracy in his search. He's helped a lot by daughter-in-law Beth, played by Sissy Spacek in a performance of remarkable restraint. The great supporting cast includes Janice Rule, Melanie Mayron and David Clennon as a less than helpful government man. John Shea plays the missing son and he's terrific.

MISSING is sad, scary and heartbreaking...directed, with his usual gravitas, by Costa-Gavras
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10/10
Missing Will Stay With You Forever
climbingivy28 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie Missing will stay with you forever.I saw this movie for the very first time years and years ago on cable television.I just watched it again on the Sundance channel a few nights ago.I love the soundtrack in this film.It has a beauty and an edge to it,that adds to the atmosphere of the story.Jack Lemmon was powerful as the distraught father of his missing son. Sissy Spacek was perfect as the wife Beth,and the daughter in law of Jack Lemmon's character.The entire cast was excellent.The locations and the scenery of this film was done very well.When you watch Missing,your heart just breaks for the father and the wife,and you just can't stop watching.I cannot imagine going through what these people had to go through.I highly recommend this film.
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10/10
One of the Most Powerful and Sharp Films of the Cinema History
claudio_carvalho30 October 2012
In September1973, in Chile, the American journalist Charles Horman (John Shea) arrives in Santiago with his friend Terry Simon (Melanie Mayron) to meet his wife Beth (Sissy Spacek) and bring her back to New York with him. However, they are surprised by the military coup d'état sponsored by the US Government to replace President Salvador Allende and Charles is arrested by the military force.

His father Ed Horman (Jack Lemmon), a conservative businessman from New York, arrives in Chile to seek out his missing son with Beth. He goes to the American Consulate to meet the Consul that promises the best efforts to find Charles while the skeptical Beth does not trust on the word of the American authorities. The nationalism and confidence of Ed in his government changes when he finds the truth about what happened with his beloved son.

"Missing" is one of the most powerful and sharp films of the cinema history and a must-see for people of my generation, raised in military dictatorships in South America sponsored and trained by the US Government. After more than thirty years from the first time I saw it, "Missing" is still impressive, with top-notch performance of Jack Lemmon. The first work by Costa Gravas in the American cinema could not be better, exposing the hidden wounds about the participation of the American government in Chile bloodshed.

Unfortunately and surprisingly this film has only been released on VHS many years ago in Brazil and I had to buy an imported DVD to change the media. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Desaparecido" ("Missing")
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9/10
This film changed my life
Ucurian10 June 2002
I was 17 when I first saw the film in 1982 and I can say, that it changed my life. Up to that I believe in my own government an I believe in the US, as a strong friend of all democratic countries. After this film I'd never take the things for real. I questioned everything and this is good. Use your mind, try to get informations from all sides. I think Chile is one reason, that the US doesn't sign the treaty for the international court, because guys like Kissinger had to be scared, that he has to take responsability for Chile and Vietnam. Everything was said of the great performance of the actors in this film. This is the best political thriller ever made.
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10/10
Eye-opening and depressing
jjj52200223 December 2003
Though I was 30 yrs old when the film came out in 1982 I didn't see it at the time although I was aware of its content. And, as is true of a lot of people my age (tho not all, of course), I toyed with liberal political beliefs when I was younger (1960's and 1970's), then gradually became more moderate bordering on conservative as I got older, onto where now I personally am not too sure where to stand. Well, I just saw 'Missing' for the 1st time. It brings back all my previous leftist 'paranoia' about capitalism and national interests. And causes me to wonder why I ever abandoned them. After the movie, I cruised certain sites on the Internet, one being a series of articles referenced in the misc. section under this movie on IMDb. They chillingly re-enforced the truth (?) that at the highest levels of our government there was complicity, even outright orders, to kill thousands, including American citizens, in the interest of capitalism, national interests and (so-called) 'national security'. I am sorry to say (sorry in the sense that with my limited personal intelligence, I am never completely sure if I am right and sorry to doubt my own government) that I am starting agree with some others, that our foreign policy has, is and probably will be be based, to the detriment of our national security, on the almighty dollar. I'm also sorry for the political comments on a movie site but, of course, the nature of "Missing" brought this on, and its very well directed, written and acted scenes. Please don't question things I have said unless you have seen the movie and read some of the articles. 10/10 ***new addition*** And I completely, of course, agree with lev_lafayette. Read the book, it is much better. I have read the book, 'Missing'. And as with most movies based on books, especially 'non-fiction' books, the content in the book is more detailed and hits you closer to the bone, heart, mind and conscience in many ways than the movie. And that is hard to believe in this case because Constantin Costa-Gavras (director) managed to create a movie experience that is nearly as moving as the work it was based upon. It was/is a great movie experience....sir. Thank you, CC-G. For those of you out there who have an easy criticism (one I agree with) now of the US (MY country and I care about it) because of Iraq, you need to watch this film or read the book. What can go wrong is deep seated (human instincts) and hard to root out. It can happen to you and your country and government. We are all human and capable of desire, greed and religious beliefs overruling true morality and an open mind and heart. Please, all of you, keep things in perspective. Fight for the right of anyone to truly express their opinion without fear of repercussions and fight for the rights of all peoples. Especially against government repression and government crimes against humanity. Bless your soul, Charles Horman, and Thomas Hauser, the author of The Execution of Charles Horman: An American Sacrifice (1978). Curse your souls, all those who contributed toward Mr. Horman's death. Including my president and his advisers. nuffsaid newest revision: I humbly present that I am surprised and encouraged by the attention to this review, both in favor and not. Thanks...Jeff Johns, now 63 yrs old. (502)600-6111, jjj522002@yahoo.com, 130 Canterbury Street, Lawrenceburg, KY. This newest revision was added in spirit with Paris, France, Nov. 2015 (and in some understanding of the conflict)
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8/10
Costa-Gavras' first Hollywood film, bravely examined the US role in Chile's fascist anti-Allende coup of 1973…
Nazi_Fighter_David11 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Praised as a Political director, Costa-Gavras is of interest less for his finally unsophisticated analyzes of government intrigue than for the way he manages to frame his impassioned polemics within a popular and entertaining format…

Inspired by the disappearance of a young American during the coup, the film lacks moral complexity, but finds an admirable audience surrogate in the boy's Republican father, who is slowly educated in the imperialist hypocrisy of American foreign policy when he repeatedly encounters ambassadorial lies concerning his son's death… Most affecting is the evocation of a country under martial law falling apart at the seams: shots ring in the night, a white stallion gallops through the curfew pursued by a truck full of trigger-happy soldiers…

Not surprisingly, Costa-Gavras' "conjectural" film provoked the wrath of the US State Department…
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9/10
Still has the power.....
Nolf_2 August 2003
A terrific and brutal political thriller. It's supposed to shake you up and it really succeeds. It's a shame that they don't make films like this anymore. Costa-Gavras's "Missing" is emotionally riveting and thought provoking. For it's time, it still has the power to change the views of todays movie viewers. A must see. 5/5.
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Shooting people is wrong - even for governments
Philby-320 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
During the Cold War (1945-1990) it was the policy of successive US governments to maintain authoritarian right –wing governments in power all around the world if there was a possibility that they might be replaced by one from the left, democratic or otherwise. As the US ambassador in this film reminds us `we act in the interests of the United States', not in the interests of the country which happens to be suffering under a fascist dictatorship. We can accept this on an intellectual level – how else can the US government establishment act - but in this movie Costa-Gavras uses his very considerable skills as a film-maker to rouse even diehard conservatives to anger over the methods used to ensure Pax Americana.

He does this by dramatising the real-life story of one of their number, Ed Holman (Jack Lemmon), a businessman from New York and a crusty Christian Scientist with faith in Truth, into the aftermath of a military coup in an un-named South American country the capital of which is called Santiago. (I think we can safely assume the country is Chile, though the locations appear to be Mexican.) His son Charles (John Shea), a vaguely left-wing journalist and writer, living in the city with his wife Beth (Sissy Spacek), has disappeared after being arrested a few days after the coup and carted off to a makeshift concentration camp in the National Stadium. Initially, Ed believes the people at the American consulate and embassy really are there to help him, but it soon turns out they have an agenda of their own. Ed and his son's wife start out on bad terms but Ed comes to appreciate her bravery in the face of a very unstable situation. He also comes to realise the moral worth of his son, who he had previously regarded as a bit of a playboy, much as he had loved him,.

An almost surreal feature of the movie is that people behave almost normally despite the obvious signs of murder and mayhem going on in the background. In fact the only time the `comfortable classes' are disturbed is when there is an earthquake affecting Ed's Santiago hotel. Otherwise, the guests are happy to watch from the upstairs terrace the military killing people in the streets. Of course General Pinochet still has considerable support in Chile, and in August 2000 your reviewer witnessed a large demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Santiago against a decision lifting the Life Senator's immunity from prosecution. It was a very well-dressed crowd.

Ed's odyssey through hospitals, morgues, police stations and the National Stadium is intercut with flashbacks which make it plain enough what has happened. Yet in classic thriller fashion we are kept on the edge of our seats with what will happen next. Politics aside, this film succeeds as a thriller involving believable people rather than stereotypes. Jack Lemmon gives the dramatic performance of a lifetime as Ed, the fuddy-duddy who really does care and leaves no stone unturned to find the truth.

Nearly 30 years later, Chile has a democratic government, Pinochet is too infirm to stand trial, Nixon is dead and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is an elder statesman on the celebrity circuit. The only communist regime in Latin America, Castro's Cuba, is still there. This film reminds us that immoral policy, whether or not it achieves its objectives, remains immoral. The fact that US foreign policy is regarded as being in the interests of the United States does not make it more moral, even if you happen to be a citizen of that country, where as Ed reminds us at the end, remains one in which you can at least sue for justice. Sadly, Ed did not succeed.
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10/10
Jack Lemmon proves that he can knock the wind out of those who like stellar performances.
Pelrad13 March 1999
Jack Lemmon, renowned up until this movie, for his comedic roles takes a very serious dramatic turn and proves that he can knock the wind out of those who like stellar performances. This political thriller involves a young American writer who goes missing in a Latin American country that is headed by a military-style government who like to execute people for the simplest things. His wife (Sissy Spacek) is joined by his father (Lemmon) who flies down from the States and they begin looking for him only to find that the American consulate is being very uncooperative and has its hands tied in politics and red tape. An excellent score by the master of New Age electronica - Vangelis ("Blade Runner", "Chariots of Fire") accents this historical film based on actual shattering events. (10 out of 10)
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Gripping
dougdoepke2 December 2014
There's a particularly chilling scene in this movie. It comes near the end in a confrontation between Charles Horman (Jack Lemmon) and staff members of the American ambassador in post-coup Chile, 1973. To this point the staff has sounded polished and professional in their concern for Horman's missing son, an apparent casualty of the coup. But in this scene the devious reality of American policy begins to emerge from behind the velvet glove, and Horman's passage from credulous liberal to disillusioned skeptic is complete. In a nutshell, the scene symbolizes one of the great divides in American political life, between the polished propaganda face our government presents to the people and the grim realities that face covers over, especially in dealing with Third World countries like Chile. Horman represents the frustration many feel in trying to deal with a cosmetic facade supported by both major political parties, when beneath it crouches the murderous policies of imperial rule.The real question the film poses is what Horman will do upon returning home.

The film itself remains a gripping eyeopener from first to last. Costa-Gravas is especially good at recreating the abject terror of fascist rule: where long hair is forbidden and women are forced back into skirts, where people are present one minute and gone the next, where a democratically elected government is present one minute and gone the next, and where a Henry Kissinger can do the behind-the-scenes dirty work and be honored for it (not in the movie, but true nevertheless). The acting is first-rate, and a tour-de-force for Lemmon in particular. Ditto, the often overlooked Charles Cioffi who puts the real chill in the confrontation scene. Two complaints: the arch symbolism of the riderless white horse conflicts with Costa-Gravas's documentary approach, and why, oh why, did they have to make Horman's son so cuddly. The audience gets the point without spooning on the sugar. Anyhow, this remains a fine piece of revelatory film-making and retains as much relevancy for today's audience as it did twenty years ago.
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10/10
"I just thank god we live in a country where we can still put people like you in jail."
jingren_9824 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
On 9th March 1928, Christine Collins lost her only son and went on a long and difficult journey to find him.

In September 1973, Ed Horman lost his only son and went on a long and difficult journey to find him.

Within 50 years, 2 similar incidents happened in America, how's that even possible!?

"Missing" was released in 1982 while "Changeling" was released in 2008. I watched both of them yesterday. After watching these 2 movies, my condolences for the Hormans and Mrs. Collins were indescribably strong; and my anger for the corruptions within the various governments can't be described using words. Even until now, I'm still so angry and "amazed" by how pathetically corrupted the law and government can be.

No doubt that "Missing" was, is and will still be one of the most powerful and influential political thrillers ever! As usual, Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek gave stunning performances. The movie kept me in suspense until the very end. Despite the movie's length, the perfectly crafted dialogue and incidents kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire 2 hours.

This Oscar-winning movie remained as one of Hollywood's best thrillers. 10/10, worth- watching as long as you're not easily bored.
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10/10
It will make you angry....
Thrashman8818 September 2007
Although I consider nowadays a "right winger", it is when I see films like MISSING that I tend to feel otherwise. MISSING is an outstanding film depicting the disappearance of American journalist Charls Horman and the desperate search for him conducted by his wife and father. It is also when watching these type of "cold war era" films that you can't help but wonder why the U.S. has garnered so much hatred from all over the world. U.S. officials, after all, were involved in Horman's death. Imagine that, killing your own!!! And, what the hell did the U.S. wanted in Chile? Well, as the film clearly states, there were over 3000 American companies in Chile at the time of the coup, and (legitimally) elected president Salvador Allende was sought as a threat to those American interests. First of all, Allende was no commie, yet paranoia has high on the list of the American Officials at the time, so they didn't want to have another "CUBA" in Latin America. Anyway, I saw MISSING way back in 1983, on video. I was 15 years old and the movie literally left me feeling hallow; I considered it an extremely depressing movie. I lived in Argentina during the 70's, and it reminded me of some of the stuff that was going on down there at the time. I recently purchased the movie on DVD and saw it last night. Again, it left me disturbed and very angry. Angry at the way U.S. handled the Horman case, with lies and more lies. Lying to Horma's wife and lying to his father. They couldn't care less about Charles Horman. I was surprised that the movie was filmed in Mexico. Although politically way more stable than Chile at the time, the subject matter of the movie was reason enough for the Mexican Government to avoid it. We were under the PRI "regime" at the time. I'm glad there weren't any problems. Jack Lemmon's and Sissy Spacek's performances were spot on. Jack Lemmon's was bordering on the supreme. He really is wonderful as the desperate and riddled father. MISSING is an intriguing film, extraordinarily crafted and richly deserving of the Academy Award it received. It is also one of the saddest films you'll ever see and hearing Vangelis heartbreaking theme song, you can't help but to cry. Watch this film and remind yourselves that American foreign policy hasn't changed much in 30 years. 10* out of 10*.
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10/10
Rather untold (rental)
leplatypus23 February 2014
Again a wonderful political red-hot movie from Gavras who really kicks where it hurts : If « Z » was denouncing an clear tyranny in Greece, this one is even more courageous as it denounces an unclear tyranny. If America boasts regularly to be a divine democracy, the reality is that they forget easily those ideals. Either they do aggression as foreign policy, either they support covert operation to change elected representatives for others (usually military) that suit them. To put it clearly, their interests are not people but their banking and military- industrial complex.

In Chile, the invisible hand of America in the coup is proved : from Nixon : « if we let potential leaders in south America think they can move like Chile, we will be in trouble. No impression should be permitted in Latin America that they can get away with this, that it's safe yo go this way ». from Kissinger : « Isn't that something ! isn't that something ! I mean instead of celebrating, in the Eisenhower period, we would have been heroes. We didn't do it. I mean we helped them ». So, as shown in the movie, their two framed portraits in all American offices has great meaning. In all cases, this helpful supervision is clearly explained and the puppet masters are famous : one was behind another famous coup and the one is a younger deep throat.

I think that the casting of Jack Lemon was best (and worthy of his award in Cannes Festival) because he is indeed the embodiment of the true, candid American. So his search for his son would turn also a a search for truth and his evolution is moving. The Vangelis' score fit this dark and sad reality of loving ones facing an abusive administration. So i recommend this movie and also the book « untold history of the united states » that was very helpful to understand our long time friend overseas.
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10/10
Living in a Totalitarian Dystopia
jonathanruano24 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Director Constantin Costa-Gravas' Missing has this aura of mystery about it and the reason for this is not obvious. There is a military coup in a Latin American country (probably based on Chile after Augusto Pinochet came to power in 1973). The American military may be involved. But for Ed Horman (Jack Lemmon), the coup is only significant because his son, Charles Horman (John Shea), disappears while it is in progress. So Ed Horman goes to Latin America and together with Charles' wife Beth Horman (Sissy Spacek) begins a long search for his son. The mystery is not over why Charles went missing or even who his (possible) abductors were. We already have a shrewd idea of what happened. Instead, the sense of mystery is derived from the surreal and disturbing world that Ed and Beth enter in their desperate search for Charles. Costa-Gavras has a wonderful talent for mentioning tiny, but crucial details, like the father who is hulled away by security forces at an airport, soldiers firing machine guns at two youths spray painting graffiti, the dead body that drifts down a river without anyone taking notice (the sense one gets is that this occurrence happens so often that it becomes normal) and the fascinating little testimonies. You get a sense that something deep, profound and terrible is going to happen in this movie and you do not know what it is. The suspense is terrifying. The performances in this movie are great, but Costa-Gavras' main achievement is turning the land into a character. The musical soundtrack, the soldiers and bodies appearing in the most unlikely places, the climate of secrecy and fear all suggest the existence of a sinister force - invisible, omnipresent and all powerful - that shapes the destinies of millions. Once you experience this world with Ed and Beth, you never want the film to stop because this world that Costa-Gavras recreates is shocking and fascinating at the same time. Missing is a special film with raw power.
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9/10
It challenges democracy
lev_lafayette21 May 2005
Very short review.

Aesthetically this film is very impressive. The narrative build up is both subtle and intense. The conclusion is a tragic let down - which may make many uncomfortable about the film. But it as about a real historical tragedy, one that challenges some fundamental assumptions of the principles of American democracy. Objectively, this is true story with artistic embellishments for narrative purposes only - it tells no lies. So objectively and aesthetically it is an impressive film.

But it is in the field of morals and politics that this film really shines. This is about Allende, a person who embodied almost a Jeffersonian style of democracy; popular democracy, locally organised. Yes, he was a Marxist, but also a person who had included the national liberation orientation of Boliviar, but also, as mentioned, the Jefferson notion of democracy. Allende _believed_ in democracy. He _believed_ that you could be elected, the State would say, "OK, because we're fundamentally a democracy and so are you so we'll let you implement a socialist economy". Of course, he was wrong and it fundamentally challenges one's belief in the democratic system being a government "of the people, for the people and by the people".

Oh, the book is better. Much better.
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Another side of Jack Lemmon.
dbdumonteil5 March 2002
Simply,Costa-Gavras's American movies (this one,Betrayed(1987) and "music box" (1990))are better than his French works(compartiments tueurs(1965),Z(1969),l'aveu(1970),etc).Whatever you may think of "Z",the art of Costa -Gavras is efficient but a bit cold and deprived of emotion.This is a perfect dissection of a political assassination,complete with investigation and suspense.But the characters are reduced to stereotypes,particularly when they are played by overrated Yves Montand.

In his American works,while continuing his militant way,Costa-Gavras puts men and women made of flesh and blood on the screen:Jack Lemmon,who made us laugh so many times in Billy Wilder's masterpieces("some like it hot" "kiss me stupid" "the apartment",the highly underrated "Avanti"),shines in his dramatic part;his portrayal of an all-American man,proud of his country,who cannot really understand the evolution of the new generations but who knows that he's got only one son,whom he might never see again,is mind-boggling:his tired and sad face,always seeming on the verge of tears ,mainly in the second half of the movie which contains two classic scenes:

-The first one takes place in the stadium,where the prisoners are gathered;he's given a mike ,but a lump comes to his throat and he hands it to Sissi Spacek -who plays (with talent) the missing son's wife -;In the giant stadium,no echoes ,even when Lemmon,in a desperate call,asks his son to come home.

-The second one takes place in some kind of morgue,where dead bodies pile up.The wife and the father really go to hell,in this almost unbearable scene.

The Putsch (Costa-Gavras takes the American intervention for granted whereas there's nothing that proves it)takes a back seat to the desperate couple's plight.

Costa-Gavras has not completely forsaken France though:the book Spacek and Shea are reading is none other than Saint-Exupery's "le petit prince".
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8/10
An important story.
Rockwell_Cronenberg10 March 2012
Missing tells the true story of Charlie Horman, an idealistic writer who disappeared in Chile after the U.S.-backed military coup of 1973. It's told primarily through the perspective of Horman's father Ed, played by Jack Lemmon, who joins up with his daughter-in-law Beth (Sissy Spacek) to try and find Charlie amidst the chaos of a nation in turmoil. The hunt for Charlie is never particularly engaging or mysterious, especially if you know the ultimate fate of their search going in, but what the film excels at is adding the human element to this kind of personal tragedy.

Directed by Costa-Gavras, Missing is a film that seems to care more about informing the world of this gross injustice, rather than do anything particularly entertaining for it's audience. Opening with the statement that the events of the film are true and left unchanged, there is certainly an air of importance added to their search, always leaving the audience aware of the real life consequences of this crime. It's a condemnation of government and negligence, much like Gavras' earlier film Z, but it's much more about the emotional conflict of Ed Horman than it is about trying to thrill it's audience.

Beth and Charlie were idealists, some could even say radical liberals, but Ed was a very conservative man who shunned their attacks on the government. He was a man who believed in what his nation stood for and through the beginning of the film he is constantly giving them the benefit of the doubt, trusting that they are not being lied to. The brilliant evolution that occurs in this film is in the way that Ed slowly comes around more to Beth's way of thinking; they start off on opposite sides but gradually come together as he begins to form a distrust in the U.S. government in Chile and a rage inside of him grows.

Lemmon's performance stands among his best, slowly developing a more angered and combative streak in Horman, but never losing sight of the fact that this is ultimately just a man who wants his son back. There's a scene late in the film where he is pleading for his son, practically on his hands and knees, not caring if he is dead or alive he just wants his son so he can return home, that is absolutely devastating. Lemmon and Gavras succeed admirably in bringing this heartbreaking story to the public eye, made even more wrenching when the final truth is revealed (or even more so if you read up on the events that occurred after the film was released).
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9/10
Powerfully Emotional
MikeyB17938 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very powerful film with a valid political message – about insidious U.S. involvement in another country. But it is even more than that. It is a story about a father's quest for his missing son. It is a mesmerizing performance by Jack Lemmon and he is well supported by Sissy Spacek. The dynamics between these two – father and daughter-in-law are real. There is a growth and change in their relationship as this film progresses which gives an added greatness to the overall feel.

The street settings for the coup are also very convincing – we feel the constant breakdown of civil society.

Even after almost 30 years this film packs a wallop and the ending is an emotional crescendo.
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10/10
incendiary statement second, moving and exceptional father-son story first
MisterWhiplash27 January 2009
What will make Missing memorable for even longer than the 27 years since its release is not just its political relevancy or even its arguable statement about the nature of deceit in matters of political convenience (i.e. US government lies constantly to protect its own ass, in this case the Chilean coup and the ties to disappearances all over the place), and yet on those points alone it would still be a film to recommend for the ferocity director Costa-Gavras makes with the material. It is, in all actuality, the human element, that first and foremost for Costa-Gavras is that Missing is about a young man who just vanishes one night away from a loving but perpetually cynical and liberal-minded wife and a conservative, Christian-Scientist father who, too, really does love his son with all of his heart.

This part of the story, which Costa-Gavras latches on to as the dramatic sail to pivot through the documentary-style investigation of Horman's disappearance, could have been in lessor hands the fodder of a decent but unfortunately forgettable TV movie (I imagine something like this coming on HBO to some polite acclaim as opposed to the divided but very strong positions on this film). But he wants to cut past anything too sentimental- yes, even with Vangelis on score providing some approximately mournful tones on the synthesizer- because these are real people and they had to deal with this very real and tragic and horrible moment in their lives, and so the filmmaker casts with a particular sense of accuracy (Jack Lemmon for vulnerability and an intelligence that pierces through the BS and Sissy Spacek for an acuity with the character that still allows for moments of real sadness). Everything after Horman's vanishing is told from their point of view, never cutting to some third-person scene with an authority figure.

It's probably the closest we'll get to knowing the facts in the case, as a young would-be writer and filmmaker, played by John Shea, who has ties to some possibly spied-on targets but is relatively harmless. One night as Sissy Spacek, playing his wife, doesn't get home in time due to the nightly curfew imposed on the streets of the city, Hormon is "taken away", by some military force, and he is nowhere to be found or heard from. His father, played by Lemmon, flies down from New York and at first is irritant: when will that boy learn that this way and that away from home is not the way to be? All of this melts away completely as the fact remains: he's missing, may be dead or at best injured, and the American embassy and ambassador make outright lies, really, in the face of not really knowing what happened... or rather having ties with the Chilean military force (some good questions get raised about America's involvement in the Coup), and how other people such as a cocky Italian friend is killed when, originally, said to have returned safely to Chicago by the State department.

There's so much rich detail to the picture that it's hard to describe it all here. Suffice to say that along with Lemmon delivering what might be his best dramatic performance and Spacek giving her all whenever it's needed, which is often, the direction is exceptional here. If not quite the towering achievement of Z, it's still about as close as one could want with the material. By focusing on the physical, hazardous nature of this environment, of a perpetual street war zone going on where gun shots pierce a conversation out of nowhere or an earthquake doesn't mean that people can go out into the streets cause of the curfew, it doesn't become stuck in its time.

Like Battle of Algiers, Missing provides a stirring sense of what it must be like- hell, basically- to be in a place an time where people are shot, openly, on the streets and terror runs rampant by military might. But there's also that human edge: it's watching great acting and being absorbed in a story one has never heard of before. A shocking one. One of the best films of its year.
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7/10
"You play with fire, you get burned"
ackstasis20 December 2008
Of all the frustrating story devices, red tape is among the worst of them. You can't see it, but 'Missing (1982)' is absolutely swathed in red tape, invisible twines of lies and empty promises that may keep you momentarily satisfied, but ultimately get you nowhere. Costa-Gavras' 1982 political drama is based on a true story, and so, as in real life, there are no easy answers. Exactly how and why did Charles Horman die? Were United States officials somehow responsible for his death? Ed Horman (Jack Lemmon) wanders dutifully from hospital to hospital, to every prison and asylum centre, in search of his missing son, gradually becoming disenchanted with the government bureaucrats in whom he'd placed his trust and hope. If the film's conclusion feels somewhat unsatisfying, then Costa-Gavras has succeeded in communicating Horman's confusion, anger and exasperation at the immobility of the political machine. Just as the missing man's father and wife were left without closure, so, too, are we. There can be no resolution as long as governments are set upon protecting their own interests.

Jack Lemmon was no stranger to frustrating film experiences. 'The Out-of-Towners (1970)' is among the most exasperating movies you'll ever see, for it demonstrates a perfect (comedic) incarnation of Murphy's Law, in which nothing goes right, and there's nobody you can blame for it. 'Missing' notably differs in that Costa-Gavras singles out a target for our frustration – the corrupt, self-serving government officials - and so our annoyance swiftly turns to anger. Lemmon gives one of his finest dramatic performances as Ed Horman, continually haunted by the incomprehensible disappearance of a son he could never understand. Sissy Spacek isn't quite as strong, but her Beth Horman is quiet and vulnerable, a woman of fierce convictions that she's too small to carry out. Any filmmaker should utilise a soundtrack by Greek composer Vangelis with caution, for nothing screams "1980s" quite so loudly. However, it isn't all bad news for 'Missing,' as the electronic musical score does actually add a sad, nostalgic element of surrealism to the scenes of violence and bloodshed.

I liked how Costa-Gavras cut directly to flashbacks without exposition or explanation, leaving the viewer disorientated, and wondering if we are, indeed, watching the past or the present. This technique recreates the confusion of the characters involved, and emphasises that our narrator is not omnipotent, but merely, like Ed, trying to piece together the facts as best as he can. The scenes of military violence, with the contribution of Vangelis' soundtrack, are oddly and eerily surreal – particularly the striking image of a galloping white stallion being pursued by a volley of bullets. The visitors to Santiago (though the name Chile is never uttered) are all strangely sedate in response to the bloodshed, their schedules unfazed by the nearby murder of local citizens, as though their status as "Americans" somehow places them above all this. At the film's end, Ed Horman dejectedly states "I just thank God we live in a country where we can still put people like you in jail." There's a deliberate hollowness behind these words; as we've just seen, America's policies aren't quite as righteous as they'd have us believe.
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Gavras,Lemmon,Vangelis ...:"Missing"
Cristi_Ciopron4 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The immeasurably beautiful score adds much to the film's mystery;and,while the characters overstate their political creeds—as the things go with the political movies,and as was fitted for a crisis situation like that chosen by Gavras here—the director fortunately understates the truths about life,to a greater effect.Gavras' craftsmanship is indeed potent and extremely refined,in the most UN-intruding way.Missing is praiseworthy, in Lemmon's list of movies, in another way too—as an unconventional and,let us use the "A" word …, art-house film;I mean Lemmon had not many opportunities to show up in an ambitious art-house drama by an European director .Missing brings a fine variation in his palette of movies.I did not know it before I saw the movie,of course,but I longed ,mutely, to see Lemmon in such a movie, be it a CCG political drama.In Missing there are many things to be tasted immensely. (But from now on I'll refrain from throwing with superlatives …).

I would rather say that Missing is not a movie made to elicit love—for either the director (CCG) or its characters—but respect, esteem and human appreciation.Gavras crafted in Missing several—many inspired sequences, many pieces where the facts shown on screen are as if inspirited with a magic fascination, with a hugely lyrical charm (it is felt as huge,as I just said,precisely because it is understated and discreet and natural, in no way over-imposed, in no way extrinsic, but twinkling within the core of an amazingly perceived reality …),with an inspirited and simultaneously finely distanced approach—this refined quality succeeds from the beginning of "Missing" in creating an atmosphere that delights.

Some things can be said about Lemmon as well—he impresses by a firmness, a force that empower his natural, charming, gentlemanly distinction.During the story,his character,this Horman—gains progressively depth.This is wondrous to behold,this transformation,that Lemmon makes very evident and tangible and defining.The way this transformation occurs—and comes forth from …--inside.It is easy to conceive it …--but to realize it on screen,within the boundaries of a given script ….To turn so naturally a natty bourgeois into a much more interesting person ….Lemmon transforms what otherwise could have been the worst of political sermons into a surprising human;notice,please that his sense of balance keeps him strictly and highly effective from caricaturing his Horman character;in no scene does Horman appear as a petty bourgeois or as a ridiculous narrow-minded laughable caricature.We may sense, yes,when Gavras thinks that Horman is wrong—and when Gavras thinks that Horman, after changing his mind,got right-minded.Yet,Lemmon never looses control of his character and maintains it within the coordinates of a sober and straightforward realism.

In this sense,Missing is an interesting conjunction—of two highly refined and essential artistic styles—that of Gavras,and that of Lemmon.Both these styles tend toward minimalism—a refined and simultaneously energetic minimalism,that does not reduce, but concentrates and reaches a welcome straightforward simplicity—without a single trace of simplistic propaganda and vehemence.

At the beginning of Missing I was pretty inclined …or rather prepared for a small role of Lemmon—I was prepared for one of those entirely honorary and decorative roles that actors of a certain age and/or fame use to get (I knew,of course,that he was awarded for this performance,that the movie was quite praised and hyped;yet …);but that was not the case.The whole movie,on the other hand,is much more than the political propaganda that the Missing's poster announces or promises:"Horman thought that being an American …,etc.".I would define Missing's merits by the freshness ,by Gavras' feel for the photogenic of the locations,and by a certain lyricism and contemplative approach that tones down the vehemence of a political stance.I want to mention exactly this:that Missing is firstly a piece of lyricism, and not of political criticism.Its lyrical and human tones are its main merit.Also,it is completely deprived of any vulgarity—cinematographic vulgarity,I mean,like cheap sensationalism, etc.. One might dislike the indeed ugly '70s look of some of these journalists,or the implied Bohemian crap and the bunch of subversive dedicated altruist Communists—fortunately,the movie keeps always beyond this stuff.

One more word about the score—this is one of Vangelis' finest scores,and what is remarkable today is the subtlety and distinguished charm and the subtle fascination of such a beautiful music;I happen to be an admirer of Dead Can Dance's To Zucchabar (Gladiator).Still,Vangelis' superiority is obvious from the beginning—the man works on a completely different scale.I discovered his music in '93,when I was 15;there are a few albums I listened to quite often—his "1492" score,and Antarctica,Mythodea,Voices and even some of his eerie vocal music (that J&V stuff …).Well,the music he made for Missing certainly ranks with these.But I fear my considerations about Vangelis might interest you even less that those about Lemmon's role.There are many,many beauties in Gavras' film;its atmosphere is delightful.Enjoy!
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