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The Vanishing

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Vanishing

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland
Director: George Sluizer
Rated: R
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: February 1993
Genres: Drama, Mystery, Suspense

*Also starring: Nancy Travis, Sandra Bullock, Park Overall, Maggie Linderman, Lisa Eichhorn, George Hearn, Lynn Hamilton

Review by Dragan Antulov
2 stars out of 4

1990s Hollywood gave the viewers plenty of reasons to be sceptical towards remakes, especially those of good European films. Few of such remakes were so despised as THE VANISHING, 1993 version of five year older Dutch thriller. Film was received with even more disappointment because of being directed by George Sluizer, author of the original version.

The plot of the film begins with Jeff (played by Kiefer Sutherland) and Diane (played by Sandra Bullock), young couple on a road trip. While they make stop at the gas station Diane goes to buy soft drinks and doesn't return. After couple of hours Jeff reports her disappearance to police, not knowing that he would spend next three years in a futile attempt to learn her fate. By that time he has found new girlfriend Rita (played by Nancy Travis) and is about to move on with his life. But fate intervenes in the form of Barney (played by Jeff Bridges), mysterious and creepy character who claims to know what happened to Diane. Led by his obsession, Jeff agrees to meet Barney, not knowing that the truth about Diane is much worse than he has ever imagined.

The worst thing about this version of THE VANISHING is the same thing that was best in the original - the ending. What was shocking, disturbing and logical conclusion of 1988 film was replaced with terribly unconvincing and cliched happy end in 1993. Until that point this film works very well and even looks refreshing compared with other 1990s thrillers from Hollywood. The general tone of the film is darker and more depressive than usual. The villain, very effectively played by Jeff Bridges, is very different from average Hollywood psychopaths - he is intelligent, well-educated college professor that also happens to be a loving father, which makes his dark side even more disturbing. Finally, Sluizer in this film creates additional suspense by showing some of the plot's crucial moments from the perspective of the villain. The casting, on the other hand, was less than fortunate with Nancy Travis lacking chemistry with Kiefer Sutherland, unlike Sandra Bullock whose brief appearance at the beginning shows her potential as the star of romantic movies. All in all, 1993 version of THE VANISHING is a film much better than its reputation, and even better to those who haven't seen the original.

Copyright 2002 Dragan Antulov

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