No child left behind.
Tony (James Nesbitt, The Hobbit) and Emily Hughes (Frances O’Connor, A.I. Artificial Intelligence), and their 5 year old son Oliver (Oliver Hunt) are on holiday in France. When their car breaks down in a small French village, their lives are turned upside down when little Ollie vanishes without a trace.
The Missing is an 8 part miniseries, following the popular trend of shows these days that have a single season story arc, and a cast that changes or varies from year to year. The Missing shows the painful path of Tony and Emily Hughes, traveling in a foreign country when their son Oliver is taken from them. Language and cultural barriers turns an already difficult situation into an excruciating one.
Let me warn you; you have to pay attention when watching The Missing, because it switches back and forth between 2006 and 2014; even throwing in 2009 in the last two episodes. So multitasking is not recommended. You will need to give this show your undivided attention, and believe me, you won’t regret doing just that.
Oliver is abducted in a small French village near Paris, and the inability to speak the language keeps the Hughes’ on the outs of the investigation. Tony is not a man to sit still and wait for silly things like warrants and evidence, oh no, he willfully, and often thoughtlessly takes matters into his own hands. There are several obstacles that the couple has to deal with in The Missing. First there’s the slimy mayor of the town, Georges Deloix (Eric Godon, In Bruges) who just wants the bad press to go away; a hot shot detective named Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo, The Patriot), whose brought in from the big city, and his brash and cocky demeanor doesn’t play so well in the small village. Then there’s a dirty cop named Kahlid Ziane (Said Taghmaoui, American Hustle), who is leaking information from the investigation to a swamp dwelling journalist named Malik Suri (Arsher Ali). Suri is using every sleazy trick in the book to be the first to get the scoop on the Hughes’ story. As British citizens, the government does send over a law enforcement liaison named Mark Walsh (Jason Flemyng, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) to assist the Hughes’, but he is getting far too emotionally involved with the family, in particular Mrs. Emily Hughes. Everything that can go wrong does for this poor couple, ripping them apart at the seams.
The performances are riveting, especially James Nesbitt, who is absolutely amazing as the dogged father who will not let his son’s abduction be forgotten. As Tony Hughes, he risks everything to locate the whereabouts of his only child. He’s intense, angry, pitiful, dangerous, and so single-minded that nothing, not even his marriage, matters more. Francis O’Connor is a jumble of competing emotions that she expertly shows in her expressions, even without speaking one word. She’s wonderful as Oliver’s mum, a woman broken, understandably by the loss of her son, but also by the abandonment of her husband as well. All of the performances are stellar, there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. The writing by Harry and Jack Williams, is so strong and gripping, and they switch smoothly from one time period to another without ever confusing the viewer. Tom Shankland’s direction is never heavy handed, and his use of the raw emotions of the characters, makes The Missing a frantic experience for anyone, whether you are a parent or not.
The Missing (Blu-ray) is a 1.78:1/1080p transfer, that takes full advantage of the different color palettes used to differentiate the each time period. Shankland uses dark bluish hues in the present, crisper, brighter colors in the past, and blindingly bright, almost washed out colors when the year is meant to be a mystery. The Dolby TrueHD audio, did a great job of handling the French spoken by the locals, as well as when English is spoken. The transition between reading subtitles and then switching to the English dialogue, was smooth, never once interfering in the enjoyment of the show. There really wasn’t much in the way of extras, all that’s available were 3 promos disguised as special features. Nonetheless, it is well worth having The Missing in your Blu-ray collection.
The Missing is as close as you’ll want to get to the chaos of a life marred by the abduction of a child. Realistically told, brilliantly acted, written and directed with a skill that makes even this difficult subject matter worth watching.
Artistically, this isn’t missing a thing. Not Guilty.