I really wanted to see The Missing Person from 2009, after recently watching Noah Buschel new film Glass Chin. I reviewed Glass Chin here:
Where Glass Chin takes some old tropes of noir and twists them up into a new package, this film seems to me, more of a love of film noir and cribs from some of the greatest story lines in film noir history and throws them into a post 9/11 America. Both films are very good in their own way and both have one thing in common: Buschel loves noir and it shows in his films.
This film starts out with a call in the middle of the night to John Rosow played by Michael Shannon. It is a lawyer on the other end. He says he has been referred to Rosow by mutual friend. He needs Rosow to follow a middle-aged man on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles. The lawyers assistant will be at his office momentarily. As Miss Charley played by Amy Ryan walks through the door I could not get the opening of The Maltese Falcon out of my mind. Rosow of course takes the job from what I believed to be the film’s femme fatale(I may have been wrong on this one). Shannon’s Rosow character seems to roll Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe and Mike Hammer into a hardboiled P.I. with all the typical stereo types and throws him into the modern world. He starts out as a down on his luck man with a drinking problem. He will do just about anything for a little money as he smokes his cigarettes in his crumpled cheap suit.
Rosow gets on the train and keeps a low profile so his mark, played by Frank Wood, will not notice he is being followed. This train voyage reminded me of The Narrow Margin in a number of ways. As we get to Los Angeles he checks into the same seedy hotel as his mark, but soon finds the closest bar for a drink. Here is where we meet our femme fatale of the film, Lana Cobb, played by Margaret Colin. The story continues from here as our hero travels to a more modern noir location like over the border in Mexico and then back to New York City.
We as is our protagonist is in the dark much of the film as we travel North America looking for answers. Everything leads back to New York for almost all of our characters and how that fateful day of 9/11 effected them.
One more scene that reminded me of a classic neo noir is the scene in the hotel with Rosow listing in to what is happening next door. This reminded me of The Conversation.
I’m sure different scenes will make you flash back to other noir greats, most with a modern twist, but still a loving homage. Listen for The song “Once Upon a Time There Was a Pretty Fly” from Night of the Hunter and a lengthy conversation about the film Serpico. Did I miss any other references?
This will obviously be a film, noir fans will enjoy for its style and its love of film noir and neo noir. We have a unique modern twist on all of this, but nothing super original. I think most noir buffs will find this entertaining and worth their time. I look forward to seeing more films from Buschel in the future. I really like Michael Shannon and find him interesting in every movie he does, so I think fans of his will also enjoy this film.
One thought on “Review: The Missing Person”
Hi. Why can’t we love a film for what it is onscreen and not for ‘the homages’ and ‘the references’ film geeks’ think they see. This film is one of the most brilliant yet subtle films ‘about’ 9-11 ever made. Think of the title. It refers not just to the guy the detective is following who escaped death on 9-11 and never went home to his wife. It could also apply to Michael Shannon’s character himself, because he has become one after 9-11. And then, the title could also apply to Michael Shannon’s character’s wife who apparently was a 9-11 casualty as well. And so we only see her in his dreams but we are not quite sure if she is his wife or some transmogrification of Amy’s characte Miss Charleyr. Etc. And then there’s Michael Shannon’s character’s moral choice at the end. He gives up his fee(spoiler alert) and returns to Chicago, gets sober, and Miss Charley enters his life. Great flick.