Missing (2023)

Quick Synopsis: June is a teenage girl whose mother disappears whilst on vacation. Using technology and long-distance phone calls, she attempts to solve the mystery of her mothers’ disappearance in this screen life thriller.

This film genuinely annoys me. The fact it exists annoys me. The concept annoys me. More importantly, the script, and general quality of the film annoys me. I should not pretty much have a winner for “Best film of 2023” this fucking early.

It’s supposed to be “I see a pretty good film early on in the year, stuff I love but I am aware isn’t going to be among the best I see”, and then halfway through the year the genuine best movies start to come out. This has ruined that. It’s going to take something special to beat this. Everything about it works. It’s technically a sequel to Searching, which is one of my favourite films of all time. It takes place in the same universe and uses the same gimmick of everything happening on a computer screen. It’s a divisive gimmick, and one not everybody will like as it can make it hard to focus, you have to pretty much pay attention to everything that happens. Before I saw this I was wondering whether it would be as good as the first one, unsure if that was even possible. I once did an at-home double bill of Knives Out and Searching, and just like Glass Onion easily matches Knives Out, this matches Searching.

The performances are all on-point. Storm Reid lives up to the brief flashes of potential she showed in The Invisible Man. She’s 19 years old and this is a lot of responsibility to place on the shoulders of a performer so young. She manages it. Every part of her performance showcases a young woman who is unsure of herself, full of regrets and worry, but full of determination. You can easily believe that she will do everything she can to figure out the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, but also that the decisions she makes will not always be the right ones as she’ll run headfirst into them without considering the consequences.

The supporting cast is great too, but obviously not given anywhere near as much to do. Ken Leung balances the tightrope between sinister and lovable which is necessary for his character to work. Joaquim de Almeida isn’t in it much but does what he needs to wonderfully.

Now onto the script. It’s brilliant. It has characters say enough things out loud so that you are sure of what’s going on, but leaves enough unsaid that you can be thinking of it 2 days later and have a sudden realisation of why something happened/somebody said a certain thing. The downside is that there wasn’t really a way for you to figure out the mystery yourself. I don’t think anybody can watch the first twenty minutes and figure it out. This means you miss out on the “ohhhhh, it’s so obvious now, how could I not have seen that? I am such a fool”. The reveal still works though and adds a lot of context to previous scenes and conversations. Some will require a rewatch but it does replay some of the conversations from the opening again, and I’m actually glad it does that. I’m normally not a fan of films repeating themselves, saying the same stuff again, or repetition. The lines they chose to replay are important though, and the context is SOOOO different when you hear them again. There’s another advantage too, and I can’t say with confidence that it was intentional but there’s every chance it could have been. The clips they replay are from the opening, and they’re shown again just after a character has had a huge revelation. So it’s almost like things are starting anew, the old story of this person is dead, and a new one awakens.

So in summary, go see this when you can, I saw it last week (thank you Cineworld previews), and can confidently say I’m going to watch it again.


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