Eye For Film >> Movies >> Disappearance (2019) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Four people go messing about on a boat. One of them doesn't come back. Detectives Park (Reggie Lee) and Bailey (Guy Wilson) are charged with finding out what happened to him, a job complicated by the fact that he's a writer with a habit of setting up tense situations and mysteries in order to see how people will react.
The main thing one can learn from this film is that people have some very odd ideas about writers - not least that they can afford yachts and have the time for both wives and mistresses. To be fair, George (Matthew Marsden) is thinking of replacing one of the women in is life with the other, thus simplifying things, but even after factoring in the money they both seem out of his league. They are, we are told, attracted to some dangerous quality about him (as if men with short tempers were hard to find), but it seems that the attraction may be wearing thin. Hints of flirtation between them echo Les Diaboliques. Meanwhile the mistress is flirting with the skipper, who has long admired the wife, and all George can do is shout at people and remind them what he's paid for, like someone's dad throwing a strop on a caravan holiday in Skegness.
Matt Shapira's début feature is attractively shot, making full use of sun, sea and sand and its beautiful female stars. He effectively highlights the gulf between the carefree dream of a life like this and the reality in which interpersonal tensions can make life as miserable as they could anywhere else. The most interesting character is the skipper, actor Hutch Dano giving him an affability that makes him hard to read. Sadly, nobody else is allowed much depth and so it's not only difficult to create a real sense of mystery around their motivations, it's difficult to care.
Did George arrange to disappear in order to manipulate the others? A couple of clues suggest this but it's not clear how he would really gain from the situation. There are obvious parallels with the disappearance of Agatha Christie but, curiously, very little mention of the potential publicity value of such a stunt. Instead it's suggested that as he's a writer, his mind is essentially unknowable. Everybody says that he's a genius. But that's the problem. Everybody says it. We don't see it. Again and again the film falls back on direct exposition rather than trusting the actors to do their thing.
All the actors here are competent and there's nothing much wrong with the film at a technical level, apart from a repetitive and sometimes intrusive soundtrack. It glides along very smoothly. The trouble is that where it ought to thrill us with the thought of dangerous currents swirling beneath the surface, it simply becomes becalmed, running out of wind.Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2019