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Missing, The

A movie directed by Ron Howard

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A tense and ultimately tender tale from the Old West

  • Feb 29, 2004
  • by
With an interesting twist on Wild West stories Director Ron Howard once again demonstrates his sensitivity to parental/filial relationships. THE MISSING is an excellent example of how a fairly simple story can become a message of epic proportions when writer, director, actors, and cinematographer are in synchrony.

Maggie (played with subdued intensity by the always fine Cate Blanchett) is a "healer" (a non-licensed `physician') who lives with her two daughters and a hired hand (Aaron Eckhart) in an Indian territory troubled by the capturing of young women and girls by the Indians and loathsome white types for the purpose of selling them in the white slavery market below the border. Along comes an older man Sam (Tommy Lee Jones) who appears Indian but in fact is Maggie's absentee father. Maggie's life since her father's abandonment of her mother and her when she was very young has been difficult and she has little feeling except hate for the father she never knew. The initial encounter between the two is a fully realized replay of years of emotion that is transmitted to the audience primarily through the power of the eyes in the quality acting of Blanchette and Jones. When Maggie's older daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) is abducted by the white slavery gang, Maggie has no recourse but to rely on her `Indian' father to aid her in regaining her daughter. The remainder of the film is an extended chase that contrasts the spiritual aspect of the Indian beliefs with the Christian ethic of Maggie. The level of suspense runs consistently high but Howard allows this intensified emotional plane to be the playing field for the gradual acceptance by Maggie that her father is at heart a loner but capable of love. The beauty of the reconciliation is subtly drawn and never artificial.

The cast is uniformly excellent: for once the Indians are humanely portrayed, the children (especially Jenna Boyd as Maggie's younger daughter) are credible, and the `brujo' witchdoctor Indian is evil incarnate. The West has rarely been visualized so realistically. This is a fine film and transfers to DVD well. The additional disc is run of the mill snippets that diminish the power of the story - and viewing it is recommended only after the impact of this fine story has settled in.

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More The Missing reviews
review by . February 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Leave it to Director Ron Howard to produce a spine-tingling movie that kept me on the edge of my seat...too engrossed to eat the popcorn!    Superb cinematography! Fine casting! Breathtaking scenery! Original plot!    Cate Blanchett is perfect in the role of Maggie Gilkeson, a young woman raising two daughters alone in a barren Southwest wilderness. She scrapes out a living being a respected "healer," with help from her friend Brake (played by Aaron Echhart).    …
review by . February 02, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: cast, scenery, music     Cons: none     The Bottom Line: "I breathe deep and cry out,   "Isn't something missing?   Isn't someone missing me?"   EVANESCENCE     Adapted from the novel “The Last Ride” written by Thomas Edison [not THE Thomas Edison, this one is a speaker for Fidelity, Boston, when not scribing a novel], director Ron Howard gives a different look at the old West. The story line …
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Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Director Ron Howard, who impressed audiences with BACKDRAFT (1991) and A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001), has outdone himself with THE MISSING, a wrenching family drama that unfolds in the midst of a classic 1880s Western. This extraordinarily beautiful film offers astounding panoramic photography and inspired performances that enrich a truly hair-raising journey. As ever, Cate Blanchett brings intense realism to the role of Maggie Gilkeson, a New Mexico cattle rancher who dabbles in the healing arts. Her long-estranged father Samuel Jones (Tommy Lee Jones) is mistaken for an Indian when he inexplicably shows up on her property hoping for reconciliation; he abandoned his family years earlier to adopt a Native American identity. An embittered Maggie sends him away, but capitulates when her eldest daughter Lilly (Evan Rachel Wood) is kidnapped by a band of psychotic Apache killers. When the local sheriff and the U.S. Army balk at chasing the perpetrators, a desperate Maggie turns to her father, praying he is suffici...
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Director: Ron Howard
Release Date: 2003
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (February 24, 2004)
Runtime: 2hr 10min
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