Monday, June 14, 2010

The Vanishing. B

Most people who have seen The Vanishing have seen the 1993 American version with Jeff Bridges. But director George Sluizer actually remade it from his own 1988 Dutch film, Spoorloos. That's the one I saw and from what I hear it's the greater of the two. The story is one we've heard before: a man and his girlfriend are on a trip when the girl is abducted. The man then relentlessly pursues her, stopping at nothing to figure out where she is and who took her. But what makes the movie so interesting is the way Sluizer tells the story. Not only does he make it clear who the perpetrator is, but he tells a large portion of the story from his vantage point. The culprit isn't your usual felon, either. He abducts the girl more as an experiment than as a fulfillment for his crazed passions. And he's a family man, too, with a wife and two daughters. He's played by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, who gives a very good performance. The only actual mystery in the film is what he did to the girl after kidnapping her. The Vanishing can be applauded for its unorthodox presentation, but my main issue with it is that the story of the man looking for the girl is considerably weaker than that of the kidnapper. He doesn't really conduct much of an investigation and the only way he gets anything done is by the help of the kidnapper (it should be made clear he's not trying to stay hidden forever) and a television interview in which he dares the kidnapper to come out of hiding. But the lack of intrigue to his story isn't a huge problem and the movie is still clever and original. I can truly say it brings something new to the thriller genre, and with so many of them out there, that's pretty important.

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