Picks and Pans Review: Missing

updated 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

You have a son who is living in a South American country shaken by revolution. He is thrown into jail by the new government, and no one seems to know where he is. That's Jack Lemmon's plight in this story based on the disappearance of American writer Charles Horman during the 1973 Chilean military coup. With Costa-Gavras directing his first American feature, there can be little doubt that his real target is U.S. complicity in the toppling of the Marxist Allende regime. Lemmon, playing a New York businessman, arrives in the Latin-American nation to find that his distraught daughter-in-law, Sissy Spacek, has all but lost hope. The heavies are played heavily, from the Chilean troops roaming the streets shooting at random to the stony American military and civilian officials who, in Costa-Gavras' mind, always put economic interests ahead of people's lives. Costa-Gavras drills that notion home with monotonous regularity. Played against this background, the human drama has less poignancy than it should. Lemmon and Spacek try mightily, but they are often done in by a script that substitutes rhetoric for dialogue. (PG)

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