Missing Child

Synopsis:

A young woman who grew up without ever meeting her parents discovers that she resembles an age progressed photograph of an abducted child. She tracks down the man who could be her father, but when she meets him she discovers that not everything she knows is as it seems.

Review:

This film had a premise that intrigued me, in fact its themes of uncertain identities and rediscovering past events made me think of Spider, one of David Cronenberg’s earlier and much weaker films. However, Missing Child isn’t much like Spider at all, it contains some similar themes, but it is a much better film and the narrative heads in a direction that I didn’t expect and could never have expected.

This is a short film, clocking in at 90 minutes, which is entirely the length it needs to be and it smartly stays away from a common pitfall of including an entirely superfluous thirty minutes or so that adds nothing to the narrative. Ninety minutes is usually a good length for a fairly generic action movie with little plot and 2-D characters, however I would have considered it much too short for a film that has realistic characters and a detailed plot. Missing Child is certainly the latter and yet it fits snugly into the ninety minutes without feeling as if the characters were underdeveloped or as if the plot wasn’t properly explained and I think I know why. It’s the performances.

The performances in Missing Child are of a very high quality and they are what keep your attention focused on the unfolding narrative. Kristen Ruhlin is the primary character Gia, a girl who was abducted when she was young and has never met her real parents. Her past is filled with decisions and mistakes that she has come to regret and wishes to move on from. Ruhlin portrays Gia wonderfully. Most of her characterisation is done by swapping out dialogue for non-verbal communication, she says more with a single glance than she could with four pages of dialogue.

Not only is Luke Sabis the writer and director of Missing Child, but he also stars as Joe, the man who lives with Gia. His performance is so good and very complex. I’m committed to keeping my reviews spoiler-free, so I’ll be as delicate as I can: he manages to go from being a caring and attentive man to a loathsome and treacherous individual. It’s a brilliant performance that showcases his acting to be every bit as good as his writing and directing.

Charles Gorgano plays Henry, a man who could be Gia’s father. His performance, as with the other two leads is of a very high quality. Again, I can’t say much without spoiling it, but it is an excellent performance that shows an emotional vulnerability even when Henry is in a position that is anything but vulnerable.

Missing Child is an independent film and it does what a lot of other independent films do and that is to make billion dollar blockbusters look very silly. Any old film can take billions of dollars and create CGI explosion upon CGI explosion as CGI buildings collapse to the ground. However, in films such as Missing Child and other well done independent films, we are treated to a well-told story with compelling characters and stellar acting and without a glimmer of CGI to be seen.

Verdict:

A thoroughly captivating story that is made all the more engaging by its compelling characters and displays of wonderful acting by its three leads. Independent film-making at its finest, showing that a good film doesn’t need to have the backing of a major Hollywood studio or to have billions of dollars thrown at it. I look forward to seeing more films from Luke Sabis in the future.

Stars: 4/5

 

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