Vanishing, The/A, BAAA
The Vanishing is a concentrated and
calculated directing effort from George Sluizer. In its Spartan style, it is rather perfect, much
like a short tale from Poe, never veering from the road it has chosen. The suspense thriller is not
the typical fare American audiences have been fed on, but for the adventurous, the change of diet
will prove a gourmet feast.
A Dutch man and woman, Rex and Saskia, are vacationing through France.
Road frustrations lead to bickering and reconciliation in suspenseful fashion. At a highway service
center, the young and beautiful Saskia disappears. What has happened to her? Both the audience and
Rex find themselves in the dark together. Intercut with scenes of the vacationers, we witness
mysterious preparations by Raymond, a rather ordinary family man. How will these characters
intersect? The obsessive nature of the film demands total concentration of the viewer.
|A light moment before the darkness.
The story is presented as pieces of a
puzzle spread out on a table. Whichever piece you happen to pick up is the part of the story that
is being examined, until finally, the puzzle nears its obsessive completion. Just like the jigsaw
fanatic pouring over similar parts of the puzzle, unable to leave the challenge until it is
complete, the young man is obsessed with finding out the truth.
Based upon his own novel, The Golden Egg, Tim Krabbe has written
an uncompromisingly compelling screenplay. George Sluizer, who along with directing served as his
own film editor, has kept faith with Krabbe vision. He has filmed in ordinary tones and colors. The
camera witnesses the action with simplicity and directness. The unhurried pacing suits the material
perfectly, and he has extracted powerful performances from his actors.
Rex Hoffman is given the perfect blend of panic and intensity by Dutch
actor Gene Bervoets. Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, as Raymond, compliments him perfectly, matching
intensity with the coldness of a scientist performing an experiment. Johanna Ter Steege is
appropriately innocent and alluring as Saskia.
Using the same source material as the laser edition, the DVD adds a level
of detail and cleanliness to the image that enhances the clarity of director Sluizer's vision.
While the film exhibits a fair amount of grain, this is the way it was shot and the DVD compression
successfully controls the way it looks, crucial to the feel of the film. The film is presented in a
1.33 cropped aspect ratio from what appears to be an original 1.66 composition. Though some scenes
are slightly cramped, overall the aspect ratio does not inhibit the power of the film. The sound is
thinly encoded in AC-3 one channel mono and the subtitles are easy reading yellow.
The Vanishing, a film that ranks with classics of the genre, must
be considered a collectible.
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