Locarno Film Review: ‘A Girl Missing’ (Yokogao)

The intriguing ambiguity suffusing Kôji Fukada’s “Harmonium” returns to a certain degree in “A Girl Missing,” but this time the writer-director neglects to reinforce onscreen relationships, resulting in a disappointing and unmoving drama of how a good woman’s life is shattered by keeping quiet. Thankfully, actress Mariko Tsutsui, who played the wife in “Harmonium,” exudes an intriguing off-kilter combination of sympathy and mystery as a visiting nurse whose world is changed drastically when her nephew abducts a girl she’s been mentoring, yet unfortunately the lack of script support undercuts audience involvement far more than the parallel timelines. Fukada’s reputation on the festival circuit guarantees a certain amount of play but is unlikely to win the director new fans.

An excellent opening ramps up expectations through a gratifying combination of confident filmmaking and skilled performances, playing on the potential for intimacy between a hairdresser and a first-time client.

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