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The Missing

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Missing

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek
Director: Constantin Costa-Gavras
Rated: PG
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: John Shea, Melanie Mayron, Janice Rule, Charles Cioffi, David Clennon, Joe Regalbuto, Richard Venture

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Set in 1885 in New Mexico, the story revolves around a gutsy frontier healer, Maggie Gilkeson (Cate Blanchett), who - after her pleas to a cavalry officer (Val Kilmer) go unheeded - reluctantly reunites with her volatile estranged father, Jones (Tommy Lee Jones), when her silly elder daughter, Lily (Evan Rachel Wood), is abducted and her lover/farm hand (Aaron Eckhart) is murdered by a vicious Apache witch-doctor (Eric Schweig) who sells young girls into slavery in Mexico. And who should be able to track the Apaches better than her stubborn, erstwhile dad who abandoned Maggie and her mother 20 years earlier to live with the Indians?

While they're on the trail in a rescue race against time - with Kate's spunky younger daughter (Jenna Boyd) tagging along - inevitably, there's a father-daughter reconciliation as each steps beyond resentment and guilt and learns more about the sacrifices one will make for the other.

Based on Thomas Eidson's 1995 novel "The Last Ride," Ken Kaufman has crafted a multi-faceted screenplay that evokes John Ford's "The Searchers" (1956), despite an emotionally alienating wrong-turn into the eerie supernatural-shaman arena. Cate Blanchett embodies the strong, complex, capable heroine, delivering a richly detailed, Oscar-caliber performance, matched by Tommy Lee Jones' haunting portrayal of the rueful drifter. Working with skilled cinematographer Salvatore Totino, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard ("A Beautiful Mind") relishes his first experience in the Western genre, turning it into a bleak thriller, effectively scored by James Horner ("Titanic"). On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Missing" is a stark, suspenseful 7. It's a family drama set against the authentic brutality of the Old West.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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