From the opening scene of The Missing Person, you find yourself enveloped in the main character's world. John Rosow (played by Michael Shannon) is the character you're unwillingly stuck with for the length of the movie. He's an alcoholic and a habitual smoker. He's antisocial and can get wrapped up in his work, which he cannot do well while also partaking in his aforementioned full-time hobbies.
Rosow is a private detective in a world that rarely requires the use of an investigator. Turns out, he's a former policeman that thinks his job is far more worthwhile than it actually is. Amidst his drunken stupor, in walks Miss Charley (Amy Ryan), the second-in-charge for a new assignment being offered to Rosow. He reluctantly accepts, and instantly finds himself following a man he knows nothing about, from L.A. all the way to Mexico.
Rosow stumbles from place to place throughout his assignment, not bothering to stay invisible, and often finds himself in worse situations than the man he's following.
By the end of this film, we're presented an ending that goes against much of what we've been told leading up to that moment. So it takes time to reconsider everything, and see where it went wrong. The main issue I have with The Missing Person is Michael Shannon. He conveys absolutely zero emotion in this film. If I was told he had some type of nerve problem in his face, I'd believe it. He never exerts himself more than an eighth inch rise of his lip. And if I'm to understand who his character is supposed to be, I need to know that he's in fact human, and not a robot.
The last segment of the film attempts to hurriedly explain why all of the characters are the way that they are. But everything presented feels like a lame excuse by that point. The director forces the viewer to put up with a strange and lifeless main character for sixty-five minutes, only to wipe the slate clean.
You can't wipe memories clean though, so it'll be hard to forget the waste of time you've spent with this biography of an abuser.
In Theaters 11/20/2009