How far would you go to find your missing lover?

Rex and Saskia, before the disappearance

The Vanishing | Spoorloos | L’homme qui voulait savoir

In Dutch, Vanishing translates to Spoorloos, literally “Traceless” or “Without a Trace” and in a nutshell, the film is about the disappearance of a young Dutch woman and her lover’s obsessive search to find her.

The film begins with Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, on a vacation in France. They stop at a busy service station, where Saskia goes into the shop for drinks and never returns. Rex waits, but after a long while, he becomes concerned as to why Saskia does not return to their car. Finally, he starts to question people at the station to find out if they have seen her, but no one has any idea as to where she is. The only clue he has is a blurred photo he took of the surrounding area, in which he can just barely make out her red hair in a group of people next to the gas station entrance.

Rex cannot accept his loss and spends the next three years obsessively searching for her. After three years and still no sign of Saskia, Rex begins receiving letters and post cards from the abductor who promises to reveal what has happened to Saskia.

The abductor, Raymond Lemorne (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), is a chilling character to whom Rex is drawn to by his intense desire to learn the truth behind his lover’s disappearance. However, the truth is more sinister than he dared imagine.

In a series of flashbacks throughout the film, Raymond, a respectable, middle-class chemistry teacher, appears plotting and planning his elaborate scheme to kidnap a random woman. Through these flashbacks we begin to learn more about what has happened to Saskia.

Eventually, Raymond confronts Rex and admits to kidnapping Saskia. He explains that he felt the need to test himself, to find out whether he could commit what he considered the ultimate act of evil.

Ultimately, it’s Rex’s curiosity concerning what happened to Saskia that keeps him from killing Raymond, and without giving away the ending, this curiosity eventually leads him to learn exactly what happened to her.

This movie is dark and suspenseful. Not for children.

It falls into the genre categories of: Crime | Drama | Mystery | Thriller

Directed by:
George Sluizer

Stars:
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu
Gene Bervoets
Johanna ter Steege

Side notes:

This French/Dutch film is an adaptation of the novella The Golden Egg by Tim Krabbé. In France the film was released under the title L’homme qui voulait savoir (The Man Who Wanted to Know). On the film’s American release in 1990, The Vanishing received great critical acclaim from film critics. The film was later remade for an English audience, but the remake wasn’t as successful.

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Filed under Le Cinema Francais

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