In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb large ouygaatyh4jzithj6fi3uyf31ri

Wonder

You’ll shed a tear or two—especially if you’re a parent—and they’ll be totally earned.

Thumb mv5bztg3yteznjytzty2ns00yjnmltlhnjutzti2m2e5ndi4m2njxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzi3mdezmzm . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 675 1000 al

Mudbound

The film invites us to observe its characters, to hear their inner voices, to see what they see and to challenge our own preconceived notions…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

The Vanishing

  |  

One of the most intriguing things about "The Vanishing" is the film's unusual structure, which builds suspense even while it seems to be telling us almost everything we want to know. The movie is a thriller based on a domestic tragedy - on a wife who inexplicably vanishes into thin air, and of her husband's three-year search for information about what happened to her. Almost from the beginning of the film, we know more than the husband does, and yet the more we know, the more we wonder and fear.

Advertisement

The film opens on a clear bright summer's day, as a Dutch couple drive down the expressway for a cycling holiday in France.

They've had a little domestic quarrel, nothing important, but now they are happy again as they stop at a roadside gas station for gas and refreshments. They throw around a Frisbee. They bury a couple of coins to mark the spot forever. The wife goes back to the station to buy beer and soft drinks, and she never returns. She disappears.

At first the husband cannot believe what has happened. He leaves a note on their car and goes looking for her. He can even see, in the background, the bright dot of her red hair in an idle Polaroid he snapped while waiting for her. Where did she go? The question becomes an obsession with him, even years later after he has lost hope of finding her alive. He simply needs to know.

Now at this point I must be cautious about what I write, because I don't want to spoil the film. Let it be said that we know from fairly early on who is responsible for the disappearance. He is a pleasant family man with a round, open face, and he seems mostly pleased with himself. We do not know how he abducted her, or what happened to her then, although there are clues. On the surface, he does not seem to be an evil man. He certainly doesn't fit the profile of a killer. But there is something twisted there, and we learn more about it as we learn more about his life story.

The husband has advertised all over France and Holland for his wife. He can think of nothing else - even though he is in a new relationship, with a woman who tries to understand the obsession. The abductor, of course, has seen the advertisements. He is not without sympathy for this man. And so the final scenes unfold.

"The Vanishing" is a thriller, but in a different way than most thrillers. It is a thriller about knowledge - about what the characters know about the disappearance, and what they know about themselves. The movie was directed by George Sluizer, based on a screenplay he did with Tim Krabbe, which in turn was based on Krabbe's novel The Golden Egg. Together they have constructed a psychological jigsaw puzzle, a plot that makes you realize how simplistic many suspense films really are. The movie advances in a tantalizing fashion, supplying information obliquely, suggesting as much as it tells, and everything leads up to a climax that is as horrifying as it is probably inevitable.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Why I Stopped Watching Woody Allen Movies

Stop watching movies made by assholes. It'll be OK.

“Call of Duty” and “Wolfenstein” Redefine the Modern WWII Game

A review of two of the biggest games of 2017, a pair that use World War II in very different ways.

Netflix's Marvel Spin-off "The Punisher" is a Lightweight

A review of Netflix's new Marvel series, "The Punisher."

The Messy Women of "Thor: Ragnarok"

Hela and Valkyrie are unusual for Marvel and blockbuster movies in general. Both are messy, complicated figures not n...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus