`Disappearances' is an enigma. Taking place during the Great Depression in Vermont, we get an outlaw caper and a tale of the supernatural. The movie is more worthy than not, but when it relies on the former, we get captivating adventure; when it relies on the latter we get more mood than substance. Kris Kristopherson, featuring one of his best performances in memory, leads an assorted cast through peril during the Prohibition.
Quebec's the name and making ends meet is the game. As his family farm loses collaterol and the money to buy hay for the animals, Quebec's stubbornness makes things even harder on the rest of family. After he runs out of honest means, he decides to go back to smuggling whiskey from across the border. The women folk don't like him much, but his son "Wild Bill" is the apple of his eye. Just like his own father, Quebec looks to his next of kin to be as much of a rascal as he is. For schooling, "Wild Bill" has elder Aunt Cordelia (Genevieve Bluteau) to rely upon at the school house. She tries to rear him as far away from his father and always warns him, "Always determine what your father would do in a situation. Then do the opposite." 'Paradise Lost' is a staple piece of literature she uses, but her actual presence seems to draw more from Uncle Henry (Gary Farmer), a Native American who runs a car dealership in town. As reluctant as everyone else, Henry agrees to come along and let him use his own precious vehicle. Along the way we first get a load of ponderous conversation that's meant to rationalize the whole deal, but the sets and costumes transport us nicely enough in a beautiful bar scene. Before we can judge the prize, we have to get a taste first afterall. And so does Bill. After they reach the border, the tension and ominous atmosphere rises as we go through the woods in the dark. They soon come across French Canadians, mounted police, and a group of monks who have their own angle on the whiskey trade.
`Disappearances' is an enjoyable trek to Vermont in 1932. It has the whole Western feel that isn't overdone or stale, but the causality of the supernatural doesn't seem to be planted well enough. Early on we get a cemetery scene where Aunt Cordelia explains to Bill that men just disappear. She whispers it, but we don't get much of an explanation. Later, at key moments she shows up to Bill along the trail. Is she a ghost? Is she a vision? We're not sure, except she gives Bill good advice. She's not all that different than Obi-Wan Kenobi, except at one point she brings a shotgun and becomes someone to be reckoned with. The effect is nicely done. We have a Native American feel as a white owl shows up as a foreboding of ill fortune, but it's not that consistent. At one point they have a train adventure; the next it disappears. Something Quebec acknowledges as well as Bill. Now it becomes puzzling. Is the movie a mood piece? Or is it a real cult adventure? If so what are the rules?
`Disappearances' is a well crafted Western (okay, Eastern) adventure that has enough elements to please, but it leaves all too many questions and inconsistencies to leave with the audience. When it's real, writer/director Jay Craven gives us a beautifully crafted film. When it's not, it's everyone for him(her)self.
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John L. Peterson (JP_Rocky_Raccoon)
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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Forced to smuggle whiskey in an attempt to save his family, Quebec Bill (Kris Kristofferson) and his son will embark on an unforgettable trip. This wild journey through vast reaches of the wilderness will lead them to discover a haunted and elusive past. Disappearances features Kris Kristofferson's greatest performance to date in this beautifully shot western adventure.