DVD Review: The Missing

Starring: James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor
Rating: 8/10

the-missing 1The topic – the sudden disappearance of a child – might be familiar, but this new six-parter from the BBC impresses for its ambition and complexity. The distraught parents are Tony (James Nesbitt) and Emily (Frances O’Connor), a British couple on holiday in France when their son is taken. The series juggles two time-frames: the original investigation, which shows how the case, and the couple’s marriage, goes sour; and eight years later, when Tony, now a drunken, obsessive wreck, unearths a lead which breathes new life into the search.

The first episodes seem a little overstocked with unsympathetic characters – a loathesomely unscrupulous journalist, Jason Flemyng’s useless and creepy British police liaison, who digs up dirt on Tony and winds up bedding Emily. But there is a strong middle section which develops in interesting ways and fleshes out some engaging sympathetic characters, such as Victor, a paedophile tormented by his guilty conscience and Rini, a Romanian immigrant, drug fiend and police informant who finds a measure of redemption through the case. Both time-frames remain gripping, dovetailing together as neatly and unexpectedly as one would hope.

With the likes of Anastasia Hille, Diana Quick and Said Taghmaoui (Three Kings) takingthe-missing 2 on supporting roles, The Missing has no shortage of acting talent, and it’s dominated by a trio of outstanding performances. Well-loved French star Tcheky Karyo puts in a warmly twinkling turn as a bee-keeping police inspector who comes out of retirement to help Tony. Ken Stott is powerfully unsettling as wealthy businessman who takes an interest in the case – but is his behaviour as altruistic as it seems? And best of all is James Nesbitt in what has to be one of the best roles of his career – a broken, forlorn-seeming figure harbouring a capacity for explosive violence. All of which makes The Missing pretty unmissable viewing.

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