Don't write this one off too soon,
This review is from: The Missing Person (DVD)
The Missing Person is the only movie I've ever seen that transforms itself from a pretty low-grade film noir caricature into a solid and even uplifting story of tragedy followed by redemption with just a few well-placed, finely wrought scenes that could have easily gone in a hopelessly morbid direction. Michael Shannon is a former cop, now a private eye who lives on whiskey and cigarettes. Most of the time he looks and acts the part of a guy who has touched bottom and stuck there. We can only wonder why anyone with resources would hire him to locate a missing child. As Shannon goes from coast to coast in search of the lost kid, however, he shows us that drunk or sober, badly disheveled or more or less together, he's a lot smarter than we expected. If we knew him and his still clouded history, he's the guy we'd want searching for out lost child.
Throughout most of The Missing Person, the ambience provided by a grossly exaggerated art deco physical setting adds credibility to the noir nature of the movie. There seems to be no way that Shannon's character, even if he is smarter than we had thought, could salvage much of anything from his hopelessly dissolute life. I never suspected, not even for an instant, that we were being set up to have recent American history provide a totally unexpected source of really quite believable explanation and redemption. Shannon's character is equally oblivious to the prospect of recovering hope and purpose.
When all is said and done, we come to realize that Shannon's self-mortifying way of living makes more sense than we had expected. We also learn that he can recognize moral recovery in others, and though inconsistent with his pecuniary interests, do the right thing and benefit thereby.
This is a good movie, but it's got to be watched from start to finish. About half way through, I was ready to turn it off as a really stupid effort to produce an exaggerated take on '50's style film noir for no particular reason. Michael Shannon is a very good actor who plays his role to perfection in a movie that reminds us that until we understand the full context, we are likely to misjudge and misinterpret people and events in our social world.