by Anthony King
I'll be right up front with you: this movie really bummed me out. Costa-Gavras is the realist version of Alan J. Pakula. Klute, The Parallax View, All the President's Men, et al. are thrilling and entertaining while based on factual, if not plausible situations. Missing, Z, Amen., et al. are also thrilling and entertaining while based on factual situations, if not very plausible situations. Both filmmakers are some of the greatest that ever lived. Both filmmakers were able to take the political thriller and turn it into a blockbuster while also staying true to their own convictions. Pakula, though, somehow adds some sort of unidentifiable fluff to his pictures while Costa-Gavras takes the reality of the world at any given moment and shoves it down your throat with a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat until you want to lift up the biggest boulder you can find and hide under it for the rest of eternity.
To be fair, we're in the middle of a pandemic, and political divisiveness is at an all-time high (at least in my lifetime). Missing is great. Don't get me wrong. It's a solid four-star (if not higher) movie. But whereas Pakula leans into government distrust in a fun, conspiratorial way, Costa-Gavras presents the same material as bleak truth. The story, based on real-life events as told in the original novel by Thomas Hauser, follows the disappearance of journalist and activist Charles Horman (John Shea) and the subsequent search by his father, Ed (Jack Lemmon), and wife, Beth (Sissy Spacek), during and immediately following the 1973 coup d'etat in Chile. In their search for the truth, Ed and Beth begin to suspect the United States may have been directly involved in the coup, ultimately causing the loss of life to hundreds of human beings.