Former enfant terrible Daniel Calparsoro trades in his cutting edge for a blunt instrument in “Missing,” a slick, derivative, too-obvious psychodrama with a superficially stylish air that’s too thin to conceal its lack of substance. Although this enervated tale of a failed businesswoman breaking down in suburbia features a nicely out-there perf from the reliable Ariadna Gil, its dependence on deja-vu motifs and a none-too-innovative final twist do little to set it apart. Helmer’s and cast’s rep could mean that “Missing” could show up in territories with a weakness for Euro-scarers.
Six months after being turned down for a job interview, high-strung 35-year-old Julia (Gil) heads for a new house in the sterile suburbs with computer game designer Samuel (Jordi Molla) and his kids, apparently from a previous marriage, Felix (Nacho Perez) and younger Luis (Omar Munoz).
Julia’s neurosis soon becomes full-blown paranoia, as she sees visions (a long-haired woman dressed in black at the front door, appearing on the security camera but not actually there) and hears noises (perhaps from a large group of cats near the house). Oddest of all is that there seem to be no other living human beings on the housing development (a space rendered genuinely odd by Josep M. Civit’s bleached-out lensing). Samuel, who before too long will be injecting his wife with sedatives, is obviously not to be trusted, while the relationship between Julia and Felix, already strained, deteriorates.
Pic makes its points about the impersonality of suburbia, and about modern existence as a nervous condition, but clumsy character work limits their effectiveness. Gil comes surprisingly close to making Julia interesting, but she’s hobbled by the fact we learn nothing about either her or anyone else over and above what the plot demands. Only tot Luis, fleetingly, isn’t flat.
Carefully wrought visuals, though rarely coming up with anything new, are the best thing about the project, achieving a real otherworldliness in a scene set in a vast, empty supermarket. But the now-dated sunshine-through-slatted blind aesthetic is too reminiscent of second-grade ’90s fare like Philip Noyce’s “Sliver.” Overused music by Carlos Jean is discreetly ominous techno fare.