Colin Geddes, director of both the Vanguard and Midnight Madness programs at the Toronto International Film Festival, introduced The Missing Girl as “probably the gentlest” of the films that he would be introducing to Festival audiences this month. Normally a fan of the sick and twisted, Geddes deserves a lot of credit for introducing us to this surprisingly charming comedy about a missing persons case.
Character actor Robert Longstreet plays Mort, a middle-aged comic book store owner who’s found himself in a bit of a rut after the death of his father, a well-respected detective with the local police. Painful memories of the disappearance and presumed murder of his high school crush still haunt him and come flooding back in a big way when his young and hot employee fails to show up to work one day. The longer her absence, the more extreme the measures he’s willing to take to find out what happened to her.
“Gentlest” or not, The Missing Girl did stress me out a little about having to walk back to my hotel alone after midnight in a strange city. Director A. D. Calvo takes our expectations of the genre as well as the film’s title and makes them work in his favor for awhile until he doesn’t need them anymore. While the mystery of whatever happened to the two missing girls will grab your attention, the character of Mort will hold it until the end. Longstreet is both believable and charismatic in a sad way, not an easy task given that you’re likely to find his behaviour increasingly bizarre. Less a story about a missing girl than a lost man, The Missing Girl examines the ways our growth can be stunted at any age and what it takes to come back to the land of the living.