Movie Review Missing in America Growing up is so hard under the best conditions, learning to walk, finding our balance as our bodies grow overnight into a different size, finding friends, finding a niche in school society for twelve long years and, the list can go on with other obstacles with which we can emphasize. Now imagine the dangers many children face in these modern times; such as addiction, gun use, homelessness, illiteracy, and malnutrition.
The angelic protagonist of Missing in America faces danger as we see her coming close to accidental death perhaps three times as she tries to adapt to her new home with her inaccessible caretaker, a man who is a stranger to her. The accidents that occur are familiar to all of us and pull us with empathy into the modern mythology Lenny is inviting us to accept.
She gently forces a pressure against conventional myths. For example, the myth that war veterans are celebrated, respected as heroes or the myth that veterans can't be accepted by society after they are damaged by war.
A group of Vietnam vets have settled in a community on the edge of modern society on secluded pieces of land such as that possessed by Jake. Their community has evolved so they can help each other without ever meeting or even seeing each other. Their isolation is total.
We know we are in the province of myth when a raven sitting in a tree squawks at Jake, trying to get Jake's attention as farm chores are being finished.
We are given another clue when Kate calls out "Who is this angel?" In the conversation that follows between Kate and Lenny, Lenny confidently looks Kate in the eye and states," You know people in heaven, too."
Portraying the healing process from deep, deep emotional wounds is a formidable task. Fortunately, Danny Glover is cast as Jake. He's an expert at leading his character and his audience through difficult personal transitions while reminding us of the childlike sweetness still hiding even in those of us deeply damaged. Most mythical heroes are honored or rejected by their society. Jake was first honored by his society, given his medal, and then rejected by his society when he came home from the war.
Thinking back to the beginning of the movie it seems possible the raven is the trickster god and Lenny, the raven's messenger trickster able to open our eyes to paradox built into our society that must change. By the end of the process the ostracized community is moving towards a new cohesiveness and a more positive sense of self.
I highly recommend this movie. It has suspense and shocks; pain and healing; flirting and love. It teaches lessons about the veterans in the current wars in which our country is now involved.
How do they say it? "You'll laugh, you'll cry! See this movie!"
Missing in America
Directed by Gabrielle Savage Dockterman Written by Nancy L. Babine, Ken Miller and Gabrielle Savage Dockterman Cast: Zoe Weizenbaum as Lenny, Danny Glover as Jake, Linda Hamilton as Kate