The Missing

Film

Westerns

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Time Out says

This terse, taut, tough little Western, superbly shot by Salvatore Totino, begins in revisionist mode, in the outhouse, and proceeds forthwith to tooth extraction. Blanchett is Maggie, a pioneer, a single mom bridling against the male sex. When a white man gone native (Jones) turns up at her farm, her reaction suggests he might be her missing husband - actually he's her father. In stark contrast to Renée Zellweger's rootin'-tootin' Beverly Hillbilly in Cold Mountain, Blanchett essays a self-reliant homesteader without falling to caricature. It's a remarkably unsolicitous performance. Fearing her two daughters are murdered, Maggie's first thought is that her dad has done for them - a disturbing notion to crop up in a Ron Howard movie. In fact, the younger child escaped, but the teenager (Wood) has been abducted by marauding Apaches planning to sell her into prostitution. Father and daughter reunite, though barely reconcile, to track them down. Along with Ransom this is Howard's best film. Intriguingly, they're both kidnap/revenge dramas, tearing apart the family pieties he sentimentalises in his comedies. It's also a brave riff on The Searchers; and while this doesn't resonate with the same depth, it has the guts to recognise something terrifying and powerful in the Native American Other. (Based on the novel The Last Ride by Thomas Eidson.) TCh.
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Will Peck

Despite pitiful reviews by ignorant urban gadflies, this movie will be recognized as a classic western, and is much better than "The Searchers', dealing with similar themes in a realistic way. As a student of western history, my opinion is that "The Missing" is one of the best westerns ever made.