The Missing

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This directorial debut by Tsai Ming-Liang's fetish-actor has a certain kinship with Tsai's films (how could it not?), but a rhythm and sensibility of its own. The original idea was that this and Goodbye Dragon Inn would be released as a diptych; when Tsai expanded his part to feature length Lee had to follow suit, which no doubt explains some of the repetitions and over-emphases. An old lady (Lu) spends an increasingly frantic and hysterical day looking for her missing grandson. Meanwhile, a teenage boy (Chang) squanders his day in an internet/video game centre and doesn't realise till he gets home that his grandfather (Miao) has gone missing. That's it, plot-wise, but there's a lot of funny/sad detail in both searches and Lee catches the look and feel of Taipei rather precisely. The one real mistake is the SARS-like illness dragged in as an underlying threat. The great final shot offers a visual denouement which is beautiful and very satisfying.

By: TR

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