Saturday, March 2, 2024

“THE MISSING”

THE STORY – Eric lives a fairly normal life working as an animator in the Philippines. He has a nice but dirty apartment, a well-paying job, and a boy he likes. However, one thing that stands out about Eric is that he literally has no mouth. One day, he receives a call from his mother Rosalinda, asking him to go see his apparently lost uncle. Only to find out that his uncle has been dead for days. While he is still in shock, a familiar alien arrives who wants to take Eric away from Earth. This event will cause him to remember his past and unravel his memories.

THE CAST – Carlo Aquino, Gio Gahol & Dolly de Leon

THE TEAM – Carl Joseph Papa (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 90 Minutes


There are bountiful ways in which one can come to terms with the trauma of their past. It’s an arduous process that is never accomplished quickly or with much ease. However, only by plunging deep within oneself to uncover such malignant feelings can one begin to heal. The form by which this journey can begin is set by many paths, but it is no wonder why art can manifest an expressive canvas to explore such themes. “The Missing” is a film that uses artistry both within its literal text and outside commentary, examining how one can shut down and feel disconnected from the surrounding world. It is also a compelling portrait of reconciling the healing process. It’s an effort that is somewhat overly pronounced but always fascinating in its presentation.

At the center of this story is Eric (Carlo Aquino), a meek and reserved young man working as an animator. His quiet nature is shown in a very literal sense as he appears to not have a mouth with which to speak. It’s a detail those around him tolerate as he communicates with a wipe board, but he is clearly living a life of isolation. Despite the encouragement of his mother, Rosalinda (Dolly de Leon), he has trouble connecting with others. That is apart from Carlo (Gio Gahol), a co-worker who ignites a passionate feeling of romance. The two venture out together one night when Eric is asked to check on the whereabouts of his uncle, Rogelio, who has not been in contact for some time. When arriving at his address, they discover Rogelio has been dead for several days. As the aftermath comes to pass, stranger events occur. An alien appears from the sky and constantly taunts Eric with abduction. It’s a fear that only affects Eric, and he must face this danger himself to uncover the true anguish that has been lying dormant within himself.

Despite the fanciful arenas, the narrative finds itself taking, it’s fairly easy to plot where the metaphors lie within this story. The menacing alien hounding Eric and slowly taking away vital body parts soon becomes a clear revelation of the abuse he suffered as a child. The pain, which is so debilitating that it feels as if a physical presence is literally removing methods to communicate with the world, is a poignant message that is sometimes delivered with a heavy hand. At the same time, writer-director Carl Joseph E. Papa manages to capture an engaging drama all the same. The analogies may be simplistic on the surface but are still effective in their observations. The rotoscoped animation isn’t always high quality, but it helps build out the imaginative world that Eric takes in around him. It contrasts nicely with flashback sequences that take on a deliberately more amateurish look, as if a young child recalled their hazy memories. The construction of this story may not always feel innovative, but the execution finds some creativity to keep one invested.

It can sometimes be a difficult task to judge performances in animation when working exclusively with a voice. Still, it’s even harder to do so with a character that removes that asset as well. Even without that element, there is something engrossing about Aquino’s presence. While his vocals have been restricted and many aspects of his appearance altered, there is a gravity that comes through his performance. The profound sadness that engulfs this character radiates through the layers of animation, and great empathy is felt. It’s a welcomed balance with what Gahol brings, a slightly more outgoing energy that immediately helps to create an endearing relationship between the two. A believable chemistry is manifested that crafts a charming bond. De Leon is also an appreciated addition to the cast as she conveys a mother with equal parts distance and warmth, making her a fascinating component that helps to give more complexity to these roles.

There is quite a bit to “The Missing” that one can find enthralling. Its depiction of a lost soul trying desperately to heal from past wounds is an intriguing thread to unravel. Admittedly, the narrative can sometimes be messy and overt, and its delivery occasionally causes the narrative to become tedious. At the same time, the central conceit is what is most successful. This examination of the silencing effect the loss of innocence has is demonstrated in an impactful manner. Even the performances in this heightened form of animation still manage to showcase an alluring presence. Some of its trappings may come across as familiar, but the realization of this concept has some enticing results.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Has an engaging narrative that utilizes the unique animation process for intriguing purposes. The exploration of its themes is compelling, with the dynamics between the characters being captivating and endearing.

THE BAD - Some of the storytelling can be heavy-handed, contributing slightly to a tedious pace.

THE OSCARS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Josh Parham
Josh Parhamhttps://nextbestpicture.com
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>Has an engaging narrative that utilizes the unique animation process for intriguing purposes. The exploration of its themes is compelling, with the dynamics between the characters being captivating and endearing.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Some of the storytelling can be heavy-handed, contributing slightly to a tedious pace.<br><br> <b>THE OSCARS - </b>None <br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"THE MISSING"