The premise of the film is two girls go missing after they wander over to one of the girls’ residence up the street during thanksgiving. The police have no suspects or tangible clues except for a suspicious camper van that was parked outside a neighboring house when the girls vanished. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is put on the case and it becomes his first real challenge as he has solved every case up to this point.
Hugh Jackman began with a very strong performance as one of the parents of the missing girls. He was very authentic for a father in this situation, and it was very easy to empathize with him. His character development became a bit cliché and then evolved into overzealous. Luckily his heartfelt start made you roll your eyes a bit less as his overacting gradually became irritating. One note-worthy performance, though you only saw him briefly (but heard him throughout), was Paul Dano. He was the main suspect, but portrayed a believable child like innocence that you couldn’t help but feel sorry for.
The running time was an issue as it was over 2 ½ hours. It showcased suspenseful scenes but a lot of the distorted suspicions and the emotional disorder were excessive. The plot could have been much tighter, and since the subject matter is a bit heavy it became unpleasant.
In essence the story was a very elementary allegory of the human spirits transformation in a state of powerlessness. A type of film you would see with your adolescent child and they would be able to discern the meaning of the film half way through.