Parents' Guide to

Missing

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Graphic portrayal of dictatorship's abuses is unforgettable.

Movie PG 1982 122 minutes
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This indelible film is equal parts murder mystery and study of American involvement in the installation of a right-wing dictatorship in Chile in 1973. Through Ed's point-of-view (brought to life by the great Jack Lemmon), we learn the truth behind the lies of politicians speaking of championing "freedom" and "democracy" abroad. Ed's bureaucratic nightmare becomes our bureaucratic nightmare -- Kafkaesque in its absurdity -- and the film personalizes the politics of the situation by making this the story of a father trying to find his missing son.

Ed's disillusionment with his government becomes our disillusionment, as Ed learns that the interests of multi-national corporations trump freedom and liberty. While perhaps some might find this to be a bit too heavy-handed or preachy, research into American Cold War involvement in Chile in the early 1970s will show that this film stays true to actual events. While films rooted in distrust of government often feel cynical as a matter of course, the difference in Missing is that the film is rooted in a deeper idealism -- be it Charles's belief in economic justice, or Ed's unstoppable search for the truth.

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