Jerky hand held cameras, slipping in and out of focus suggest a gritty tale in The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing.
The story lands on Echo (Kai Lanette), a fifteen year old killing time in a desolate urban wasteland. She is continually raped in a brutal assault that lasts until sundown. Bloodied and dishevelled Echo wanders off without comfort or help.
Ten minutes into the film there is still no dialogue to assist the viewer; save for a flickering caption announcing the character’s name and age. Then a further caption: a short while later and Echo discovers she is pregnant.
Eighteen minutes in and we finally have dialogue; Echo’s father has discovered her secret and throws her out. So begins a depressing quest for shelter as she desperately scratches for change in vending machines. A bridge provides refuge as realities of the street begin to kick in. Echo is unloved and unwanted; nobody knows or cares that she’s missing; all that awaits is a lonely and dangerous existence.
The film manages to convey a powerful narrative with minimal dialogue; in 60 minutes there can be no more than a dozen lines in a painfully thin script.
Nevertheless, the indie movie makes its point with a series of images that jump from colour to black and white; mixing with periodic negative shots fading in and out. It gives The Girl Who Wasn't Missing a unique filter of colours and ethereal quality; allowing the viewer to surmise the character’s back story. Having said that, more dialogue would have driven the story with greater conviction; it nevertheless shows great dexterity and confidence to let visuals carry the burden.
The result is a disturbing, almost hypnotic portrayal of a girl left to fend for herself; another casualty in a society that seems to care much less than it should.