BBC One Tuesday @ 9pm.
From: BBC.co.uk/media centre/the missing
“Tony and Emily Hughes’s life changes forever when their five year old son Oliver goes missing on a family holiday in France”.
8 Years Earlier”
Things are not so good in the present day. It is dark and it’s raining. James Nesbit goes up the steps of Hotel Eden.
So I wasn’t going to watch The Missing. Too dreary. Missing child. BBC (One). Bound to be severely depressing. Claustrophobic in nature. Where everything happens inside. Usually. Plus leaden and long moments of movement, speech and action. Those were mostly all of my predictions. Now in retrospect having watched episode one: some of the above become descriptions.
However, in spite of half heartedly considering ditching on The missing several times, reasons, see above, I stayed with it. Slowly, once The Missing pulled away from the starting line and we suffered the inevitable and seemingly pre-required now, flashbacks, things started to get a bit more interesting.
But boy, were there some long drawn out scenes of slow motion. Or that is how they always seem to me. You know, those endless moments where one character just stares at another. Says nothing. We see a character alone in a scene: they stare into the distance, look moody. Droop about a bit. Say nothing. And so it all goes on. Like Ariston.
Anyway, in spite of all this silent signposted as emotionally meaningful shenanigans, the drama gathers pace. To slightly snail-like. From pretty much stationery.
This magical effect is mainly , in my opinion, due to getting out of the house quite literally (domestic drama dwells inside) by transporting the action to the streets, Bars shops and charming railway station of Chalon du Bois.
The second reason for the drama gathering up the voluminous heavy robes of its dramatic muse and impressing us with its increasing depth: is the presence of James Nesbit. Who can act the hind leg off a donkey.
James Nesbit plays the almost catatonic of face, grieving but not fully grieving, father. Of the lost boy. Not fully because the parents do not know if their son is alive or not.
James Nesbit has not given up, his ex-wife has. She now has the seemingly perfect life. With a seriously creepy/ slimy new husband and Stepson. The husband who just happened to be at Chaloins du Bois when their son disappeared. He is a Police Liason Officer so would seem a bit of a stretch as a suspect.
However the Policeman appears slightly suspiciously portrayed. As do all the other characters that are introduced.
The nervous and over-jocular husband of Sylvie, the Hotel owner. Of Hotel Eden. Sylvie too, is lit up close and appears to be throwing shifty glances around. The line up of some of these suspects is surreal and slightly over-acted perhaps. In an old style Agatha Christie film way.
Right now we suspect everybody. We are meant to.
However the questionably dull bits of The Missing give way to the welcome and dramatically hoped for nay expected: pairing of James Nesbit and the retired French Detective Inspector Luc Baptise. Who is mildly irascible on first impression but is soon peering into his laptop in the dead of night to check on a clue.
Retired Detective Jean Luc Baptiste lives in a Sunday newspaper supplement style French farmhouse. Fabulously but artfully appointed. His wife is the fearsome Police Chief from both Prey and The Tunnel. Here she is a sympathetic house-frau/wife.
James Nesbit staggers about town in France, drinking a lot and portraying mouldering grief and obsession. A fixation with finding his son. Just by his eyes and barely discernible movements of his weathered and worn face.
Fortunately and finally:
James Nesbit, unrepentant since he remains in Chalons Du Bois, in spite of being warned off and told that all the townspeople hate him/ want him gone, he remains. In the rain. (he won ‘t leave he won’t give up)
I remember I said James Nesbit’s ex-wife had given up. She has not. Not fully. We see her weep, brokenly, in the bathroom with the tap on.
So nobody knows.
As I was saying, James Nesbit is still standing in the rain, near swaying. His eyes narrow and stare. We follow his gaze. It is Jean Luc Baptiste. Loping along with his bad leg. We are getting the feeling that this leg may be related to the case.
Still, Jean Luc Baptiste is like a retired Vincent Cassel from a Luc Besson film with odd but strangely cool gold rimmed triangular glasses. Inspector Baptiste (Ret) is investigating a clue.
Jean Luc Baptiste joins up with James Nebit as we expected. Or I did. So the quest has begun.