With the advent of technology, there’s merely nothing that one cannot do with it. From self-driving vehicles to cameras as tiny as a screw, we feel like we have seen everything. In the latest screen life thriller titled “Missing,” we see June navigate through various apps to find her missing mother. What at first seems to be tackling a well-known conflict involving Colombia and USA turns out to be something extremely intricate and intriguing.
Written and directed by Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick, the movie explores how a newly adult woman who constantly runs away from her controlling mother begins to care about her when she is nowhere to be found. Grace and her new boyfriend, Kevin, plan to take a trip to Colombia to reset and have a good time. With June all alone at home, she plans to throw a party and have a grand time while her mother is away. When the day finally comes to pick up her mother from the airport, June scrambles to make her way to LAX, only to be left waiting for hours on end. What follows is a series of unfortunate events that lead to June finding out shocking secrets about her parents and her childhood. The most interesting thing is the way the film presents itself. Entirely seen on the screen of either a laptop or a phone, the events of the movie reflect the innovation and pros and cons of technology. Apart from just tracking the phone, the film delves into the plethora of means at one’s disposal to find a missing person. With the police and the right resources, even a non-hacker can find compromising details about a person in a jiff. It all comes down to what the person is looking for and how they use that information. For that, let’s see how each character is sketched in the movie.
From the moment the story begins, we are introduced to the innermost thoughts and actions of Junebug, aka June Allen. Being the only child in the household, she seems a bit entitled and spoilt. She lives with her mother, who seems to want only the best for her daughter. On the other hand, June is determined to always rebel and do whatever she wishes to. She wishes to get away from home and her mother as soon as she can. Her relationship with her mother is bittersweet, as they squabble most of the time, and June feels smothered by her. It’s sort of understandable, considering Grace is a single mother and only has June to focus on. In hindsight, June gets away from her real life to get lost in her virtual one. Her devices are always brimming with texts and calls from her friends, who represent her outlet and her connection to the outer world. This comes in especially handy as the whole movie is shot on the screen.
Even June’s social media is filled with followers and updates from her acquaintances. She records every feeling and every emotion to post it on her feed. This makes us wonder how many of us are just living to etch new posts on our timelines rather than being truly present in the moments that bring us joy. June is the archetypal teenage girl of the 21st century whose entire life is spent looking at one screen or another. She is rebellious and resourceful whenever the situation calls for it. She goes on to investigate her mother’s disappearance by herself, as June is independent and will not give up on the only living parent she has. June lost her father when she was young and reminisced about the days she remembers and the good memories he left with her. Especially on Father’s Day, when everyone she knows is posting pictures with their fathers, June feels left out. This is another one of those moments where we feel life was better without social media. If it has the power to connect us to our loved ones, it also has the ability to make us come face-to-face with what we are missing.
The most striking qualities about June are her deductive and investigative skills. She is able to take up her mother’s missing case and goes through every possible account she can. June is smart enough to decipher her mother’s passwords and even Kevin’s credentials (Grace’s boyfriend). June stays one step ahead of even the authorities looking into the case. She hires a person on TaskRabbit to look into the footage in Colombia. Hence, it shows how resourceful and intelligent she is. But on the other hand, it also displays the incredible power of technology and social media, which proves that the concept of privacy is now pretty much nonexistent.
Even though she remains off-screen and missing for almost the entirety of the movie, Grace’s character also somewhat resembles that of a typical mother. She cares for her daughter and wants her to always be safe. She urges June to keep her location on and to clear her voicemail. Grace also remains in the dark about the recent technology and accessibility of devices. She is seen using her phone with much difficulty. Furthermore, Grace meets her boyfriend, Kevin, on a dating site, and they hit it off immediately. They share their past and talk about every issue that bothers them in life.
As the story progresses, we learn of the tragic past that Grace went through. We get to know of the miserable abuse and mistreatment suffered by Grace at the hands of her husband, James. This made her change her identity altogether and she eventually moved to a new place. James was an alcoholic and assaulted his wife repeatedly. To get away from the despicable man and save her daughter, Grace changes her name from Sarah and looks forward to a new beginning. Despite everything she went through, it is commendable that Grace never let June know the truth about her father and distorted the perfect image in her mind. She protects her daughter both physically and emotionally. Grace deemed it better for June to believe that James died rather than have a negative perspective on the first man in her life. That could have disastrous consequences for her, as she might have been left scarred for life and scared to ever be in a healthy relationship.
With the dangers of the past and the constant fear of losing her precious daughter, Grace appears to be controlling and somewhat of a helicopter mother. Eventually, her character is redeemed when we understand the kinds of situations she had to go through. In the end, June also understands what made her mother worry so much, and the two begin to reconcile and heal their relationship with time.
At the center of the whole missing conspiracy and the turning point of the movie is James. We believed him dead at first based on the story Grace told June. Even in the recorded footage that we see, James is seen bleeding through the nose with clippings of a brain tumor in the folder that inform us that he might have died of the same. However, when James appears in real-time and meets June in person, we are left baffled as to what to believe and what to ignore. He tells June some bullshit theories about how Grace is not what she seems. And at the time, we were beginning to be convinced that Grace had something to do with her own disappearance. However, the tables soon turn, and we see James for who he truly is—a bad father and a worse man.
In the recording of the phone call that Grace shares with the police to inform them of James’ wrongdoings, we hear him threaten Grace and everything she stands for. He says that he will kill her, which eventually makes Grace’s case and sends James to prison. It is in prison that he meets Kevin, his soon-to-be accomplice, who goes on to date Grace and get closer to her. James and Kevin plan the entire kidnapping to get revenge for what Grace does. Moreover, James feels that it is his right to be with his daughter without realizing the kind of danger he is putting her in. Very slyly, the duo plans their every step and even tracks June’s laptop to stay two steps ahead of everyone on their trail. His cunningness is evident in his way of securing every aspect of the plan with no way of falling short. Ultimately, he meets his well-deserved end when Grace puts a shard of glass through his neck.
The only unproblematic character in the entire movie is Javi. He is the person June hires in Colombia via TaskRabbit to look at the footage and gather evidence of her mother’s whereabouts. Javi understands June’s predicament and helps her whenever he can. As June finds more clues, she asks Javi to help get to the bottom of each one. Despite the tasks being done in exchange for money, Javi appears to connect with June as well. The duo talks about their broken families and finds solace in knowing that someone out there relates to their issues and that they are not alone in feeling desolate.
When June cannot find someone to talk to and confide in amid all the chaotic media frenzy, she calls Javi and shares her feelings with him. Being a sort of father-like figure, Javi hears her out and calms her down. Moreover, even after June upsets Javi with a rude comment, Javi answers the call when she reaches out in trouble. It is because of Javi that June is able to get out of a terrible situation alive, along with her mother. Consequently, Javi and June remain in touch even after the terrible events subside. Javi even reconnects with his son after witnessing June’s experiences. The end of the movie witnesses Javi befriending Grace on social media. This could mean that the two hit it off and ended up together. June and Javi already get along so well, so it won’t be too far-fetched to see Grace and Javi together in the future.