I went into Missing Pieces with no idea of what the plot was, no impression of what I was about to see and no real burning desire to find out. Looking back, I think that may have been the biggest reason of why I enjoyed this film. If I had known what was lying ahead of me during this film, it could have spoiled the flow of events. When watching 127 Hours, in the back of your mind, you’re just waiting for that boulder to drop. But, I didn’t know the plot of Missing Pieces, so I didn’t have that anticipation of the main plot point. This worked very well, because I was able to just sit back and see where the film was going to take me.
Missing Pieces tells the story of David Lindale (Mark Boone Junior), a mentally unstable man who attempts to learn what love really is and to use that knowledge to get fix his own failing relationship. Now, this is where the film threw me for a loop. David begins stalking two lonesome strangers, Maggie (Taylor Engel) and Daylen (Daniel Hassel), and noting their common personality traits. After deeming them compatible, he kidnaps both of them and begins placing them in restricted situations that force interaction with each other.
For instance, he places them on a towering plateau with only some basic supplies and a series of envelopes containing questions. He instructs Maggie and Daylen to both answer the question and discuss that topic for an hour, before moving to the next envelope. Each situation David places the two victims in is created specifically to encourage a relationship between them. Its hard to place Missing Pieces into one particular genre of film; it has humor and charm, but all of the fun, happy scenes are laced with an eerie, dramatic overtone. I have to say, Missing Pieces is a breath of fresh air from the “Sequel-To-A-Sequel” craze that has seized Hollywoodland.
Most mainstream releases these days follow a very strict pattern:
- Introduce main characters
- Introduce first plot point
- Megan Fox
- Second Plot Point
- Thrilling conclusion
Missing Pieces takes a slightly different approach, bringing the past, the present and the future into each scene. Admittedly, the first ten or fifteen minutes of this movie accomplished nothing but creating a roomful of confused faces. After about half an hour, I started recognizing the bits that I had seen out of context come together. The way that Missing Pieces is put together sheds light on things you’ve already seen, continues the main plot and tells the past of each character. This creates a brilliant patchwork of memory, prophecy and emotion.
For only having a budget of $80,000, Missing Pieces competes with (and occasionally surpasses) the overall quality of many major films. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautifully shot movie. From sweeping, dreamlike landscape shots, to powerful and gritty action scenes, director Kenton Bartlett takes advantage of every opportunity to create, not just a movie, but art. With an impressive soundtrack that walks beside, not on, the film, Missing Pieces is easily one of the best indie films I’ve seen.
Mark Boone Junior truly shines in Missing Pieces. He makes the character of David very real and relatable, while also making him creepy and pitiable. Luckily, Mark Boone Junior is not the only actor who preforms greatly in the film. While having a few moments of cheese, Taylor Engel and Daniel Hassel have fantastic chemistry on the screen. Despite the strangeness of the plot, the performances of the actors sucks you into the story and solidifies your suspension of disbelief.
I really hope that Missing Pieces finds the help needed to get to widespread audiences, because this is one passion project that was worth all of the effort. Just when you think movies like Final Destination 5 and Drive Angry have diluted and bastardized the art of film, gems like Missing Pieces pop up and remind us of how it should be done. This film has received a lot of praise and deserves every bit of it, but I’m afraid that it may slip through the cracks and become “The Best Movie You’ll Never See”.
I give Missing Pieces 4.5 “Mascots” out of 5