In the final minutes of Alexandra McGuinness’ soul-searching narrative, one of the protagonists is told that “every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness”. While She’s Missing evocatively captures this sense of emptiness and futility – and the desperation it can drive – the central mystery loses its impetus in a third-act detour.
The drama follows Heidi and her best friend Jane when the latter disappears with barely a trace. Lucy Fry captures Heidi’s quiet observation of her stagnant world and friend’s volatile life, growing in confidence as events lead her to question her circumstances. Unfortunately, Eiza Gonzalez is not given much to do aside from play Jane’s bold, impulsive discontent, facilitating more growth in Heidi’s self-awareness than her own character. Framing Jane almost solely through the eyes of those around her keeps her at a distance that hampers insight.
The film shines when it revels in the expansiveness and oppression of its Southwestern setting. Mountains fade into a grey-blue sky behind the sprawling middle-of-nowhere that Heidi and Jane call home, establishing a washed-out emptiness in their surroundings – a direct contrast to the rodeo ring where Jane longs to shine. When she disappears, this space becomes an arrestingly apathetic backdrop for the search.
At the same time, the trapped feeling both protagonists experience – and react in vastly different ways to – is palpable. In a town of transient entertainers, rodeo workers and army families, being stuck with no way out is both terrifying and strangely reassuring. Watching Heidi stretch her emotional and psychological bonds is the film’s most compelling struggle, translating this atmosphere beyond New Mexico’s topography and economy.
She’s Missing loses some emotional moments to disjointed cuts and plot points (most notable in Jane’s star-spangled quiet desperation), but its redolent, tangible sense of place makes it a worthwhile watch.
CAST: Lucy Fry, Eiza Gonzalez, Christian Camargo, Josh Hartnett
DIRECTOR: Alexandra McGuinness
WRITER: Alexandra McGuinness
SYNOPSIS: When a vivacious bartender with dreams of being a rodeo queen goes missing, her timid best friend takes off across New Mexico to find her.