Review: The Missing Person DVD

STUDIO: Strand Releasing | DIRECTOR: Noah Buschel | CAST: Michael Shannon, John Ventimiglia, Amy Ryan, Margaret Colin, Merritt Wever
RELEASE DATE: 4/13/2010 | PRICE: DVD $27.99
SPECS: NR | 95 min. | Thriller | widescreen | Dolby 2.0 stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The tough-guy noir is back with The Missing Person, a low-budget movie salute to the likes of gumshoe classics Kiss Me Deadly and The Big Sleep. In the independent film, Michael Shannon, Oscar-nominated for his creepy supporting turn in Revolutionary Road, plays John Rosow, a hard-drinking, chain-smoking Chicago gumshoe hired by a lawyer to tail a man who has a Mexican child in tow on a train from the Windy City to Los Angeles.

The trek turns out to be uneventful, but once Rosow gets off the train, odd things begin to happen. Rosow follows the man to a Mexican orphanage, befriends a cranky New York cab driver (John Ventimiglia), and gets duped by a sexy femme fatale (Margaret Colin). Rosow’s assignment then changes: Now, he must bring the man back to New York. Eventually, secrets about the man and boy he’s been tracking are revealed, as are secrets from his own hidden past.

Writer-director Noah Buschel has an obvious fondness for classic noir and the anti-heroes the style/genre has produced. (The placing of Shannon’s cynical Rosow in a modern L.A. setting is reminiscent of Robert Altman’s modern noir masterpiece The Long Goodbye.) But while Buschel nails the outer surface quite well, there’s not a whole bunch going on beneath it, even after some startling revelations about the characters are made towards the close. Thought-provoking and powerful as said revelations turn out to be, they don’t take the proceedings or our feelings to a significantly deeper level.

Still, The Missing Person should be commended for its attempt to take noir into the realm of cinematic relevancy, as opposed to just an empty tribute. The cast is uniformly fine, led by Shannon, a tough-talking shambles who tries to hide his tragic past with gulps from a flask, a pack of smokes, and a view of the world that is bleak and uncompromising.

The DVD doesn’t have any special features.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.