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MISSING / SAGASU (2021, JPN) – 7.5/10

A completely unexpected pleasant surprise arrives from Japan, a dark and rather shocking combination of thriller and drama written by Shinzo Katayama. “Missing” or “Sagasu” in the original was only the second film for this Japanese filmmaker who started his career as an assistant to the Korean Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) on the film “Mother”. And the influence of the Korean grandmaster on Katayama, who also made an intriguing and unusual film full of surprises and shocks, is obvious. Although it is clear that Katayama still lacks the finesse, experience and skill to turn a great idea into a great film, “Missing” was still a quality thriller that balances interestingly between classic genre and artistic achievement.

It’s a shame that it’s quite confusing and confusing at times (although everything falls into place by the end), because this could have been a film with the greatest reach, and the story of the psychopathic maniac and murderer Katayama is presented from a completely unusual perspective. The narration here is non-linear, almost elliptical, so we will follow the same events from the perspective of several characters, and at the beginning it seems that it is almost a social drama in the footsteps of Koreeda, because we follow the story from the perspective of a girl whose father has disappeared.


After his wife died, Satoshi (Jiro Sato) ended up in financial problems and in severe depression. He seems to have completely neglected the 15-year-old daughter Kaede who acts more like an adult member of the family, and one day Satoshi will just disappear. Even before the disappearance, the guy who completely gave himself up to lethargy, drank himself and completely collapsed, kept repeating to his daughter that he would go in search of a serial killer that the police were also looking for and offered a large reward for information, but no one took him seriously. When Satoshi disappears, Kaede will realize that it is possible that the old man really went in search of the killer, and she will go in search of him with the help of her teacher and friends.

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This search will soon lead her to a young man named Terumi Yamaguchi who seems to have known her father, and soon the perspective of the story will completely change. We go back a few months and follow the story first from Terumi’s perspective, and then from Satoshi’s perspective, and “Missing” soon grows into a dark, shocking and brutal thriller. Although Katayama complicated the situation quite a bit and at times it seems not only nihilistic, but also completely absurdist, he managed to get a rounded and meaningful story in the end when we realize that almost nothing is as it seemed at the beginning. In a delicate way, Katayama also deals with topics such as euthanasia, the problem of suicide in Japan, and at times “Missing” is reminiscent of the best East Asian, primarily Korean works about psychopathic killers whose motivation is impossible for a normal person to understand.