Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Retro Review: The Vanishing (1988)
A Thriller With A Morally Questioning Story That Never 'Vanishes' Into Thin Air
Not to discourage filmmaking here in America, but I feel that European filmmaking is alive and well. Mainly because they have such creative ideas and they even take concepts that have been told here and make something fresh and new out of them. The Vanishing does just that as it deals with a missing person but tells it from a unique perspective.
The Vanishing is about a Dutch couple named Rex (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia (Johanna Ter Steege) traveling to France. As they make a stop at a service station, Saskia then suddenly disappears without a trace. The rest of the film then follows Rex and his obsession with what happened to Saskia, as well as the man responsible for Saskia's appearance named Raymond (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu).
What I Liked About It:
One thing that I thought was interesting was how we see both sides of the crime committed. We see the point of view of Rex and how his girlfriend's disappearance has had a great effect on him. We also get a glimpse at the life of Raymond and see how despite the fact that he is a monster, he is still a family man. Honestly, the fact that he had a family and was a criminal made me feel sickened by this character. Also, even though we figure out in the beginning who the culprit is, we never know what he actually did until the end. I think the film wanted to just give an exploration of this horrible man and show how he could be someone that you possibly know. He is just an average joe who wondered if he can do something incredibly sinister and discovered that he actually could. In my opinion, it's villains like those that scare me the most. We see plenty of Freddy or Jason-type killers, but those are just make believe. Raymond is somebody that could be your boss or your neighbor and he shows that the most horrifying monster could be standing right in front of you.
Since I am still on the subject of Raymond, I'll now go into the actor who portrayed him. Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu is absolutely brilliant and actually does a great job at making you hate his character by just giving a simple smirk. For such a villainous performance, he is very low-key and unassuming and I really liked it. Johanna Ter Steege has a very luminous presence when she is on screen as Saskia and is very endearing. Gene Bervoets is also outstanding as Rex and really makes you feel for him as the obsesses for the truth about what happened to his long lost girlfriend. That actually brings me to my next point. I don't want to try and spoil it, but I feel the film's message is how sometimes our quest for the truth can lead to consequences or getting nothing out of it, much like the movie Doubt that came out in 2008. So, it was neat that not only is this a unique thriller but it actually conveys a meaningful moral message.
What I Didn't Like About It:
Overall, The Vanishing is a unique and morally questioning thriller that might just have you guessing until the very end. It honestly might not be for everyone just because it is very slow-paced and you would need to read subtitles if you aren't fluent in Dutch. But it is a wonderful film nevertheless.