JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Disappearance (Director: Matt Shapira) - July 12, 2019


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79 min.

How to avoid writer’s block

In my experience writing fiction (novels or short stories), I adhere to the mantra: “Let the characters tell you where they want to go.” Consequently, my days of “writer’s block” have been few and far between.

But for those countless others who must know what will happen next—before setting pen to paper—getting “stuck” can be hugely debilitating.

Director Matt Shapira (along with co-writers Hutch Dano and Mike Wollaeger) has come up with a taut thriller that spends most of its time in the oceanic sun and secluded beaches (notably Three Arch Bay). The quartet of “shipmates” are soon balanced by a pair of detectives trying to figure out The Trouble with George.

The George in this instance (well played by Matthew Marsden) is facing a week-long deadline from his publisher, but opts to celebrate his 10th anniversary with “loves a cocktail” wife, Isabelle (Cortney Palm chugging the champagne as readily as water). Also along for the voyage is George’s current concubine, Cecile (Jemma Dallender’s sultry heat never allowed to fully flame).

Rounding out the disparate quartet is George’s go-to man and boat captain, Blake. Co-writer Dano does a fine job playing the recovering heroin addict who—like everyone else on board—seems to owe his very existence to the my-way-or-the-highway writer.

Told in compelling non-linear fashion (and with magnificent cinematography in and out of the sea thanks to Eitan Almagor and Shapira), the narrative unfolds in mostly decidedly mysterious fashion as it comes to light that George has vanished from the boat and the three remaining are all suspects in an apparent corpus delicti.

Leading the investigation, Reggie Lee conducts convincing interrogations as Detective Park, but is saddled with a simultaneous marriage breakdown subplot that adds little to the flow and never fully develops. His partner in truth, Detective Bailey (Guy Wilson: just eager and disbelieving enough), is the catalytic character that aptly fuels the situational fire as to what really happened.

Similar to his apparently successful fiction, George thrives on going beneath the surface, drawing those around him into his sphere, then readily using, mocking or abandoning them in order to meet his target.

By journey’s end, the beautifully penned writing is miraculously captured in a waterproof pouch, echoing mightily with the form and style of Ernest Hemmingway whose The Old Man and the Sea was Blake’s prescribed reading on this voyage of the damned and the damnable.

Trust no one! JWR

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Director - Matt Shapira
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