Some directors take awhile to hit their stride and become household names, while others hit it out of the ballpark on their first going. Shinzô Katayama is one of the latter. And his first feature film, Missing, will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Santoshi (Jirô Satô) has been lost ever since his wife passed away. He’s depressed, in debt, and can hardly bring himself to get out of bed every day. His teenage daughter Kaede (Aoi Itô) tries to help him. But no matter how hard she tries she can’t get him to move forward and dig himself out of the hole he falls into. Instead she’s become his caretaker, and the responsible one in the family.
Santoshi has a plan however, he will track down a serial killer the police are looking for so that he can collect the reward money and get his life back on track. One day Kaede wakes up to find her father gone, and this forces her to solve the mystery as to what happened to him. The answers she finds however are ones she doesn’t expect. And it make the situation even more complicated than she could have ever imagined.
To say Missing will surprise you is a bit of an understatement. It starts out heading in a very familiar direction, before changing direction and showing you something completely different. It’s a technique many films have done in the past. But one that is so hard to successfully pull off that most of the films that have tried it are unremarkable. Katayama, who also co-writes the story, does it extremely well however. Part of the switch will have you questioning morality and ethics, Meanwhile, it forces you to decide which point of view you believe is the right one.
The chemistry between Satô and Itô, father and daughter, is strong. This is part of the reason why the film is so compelling. They work so well together. The movie makes the decision to switch up the typical crime thriller storyline of a father searching for his missing daughter. And that works because of their familial chemistry. It’s unfortunately however that the pair didn’t share more scenes at the start of the film. Those scenes may have further build their bond.
Missing is a strong, interesting and compelling film that both captivates and shocks you. It’s well worth the time to watch, and one you won’t want to miss. You may not be familiar with the name Shinzô Katayama. But if he continues making movies like Missing it won’t take long until you treat him as a household name.