Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm, written by Joe Bone and Celyn Jones, The Vanishing is a cinematic tale of three lighthouse keepers that go missing after they find a mysterious box swept up alongside a body on the shore. Originally titled The Keepers, the film offers up an astonishing Gerard Butler performance, the classic formidable Peter Mullen character and an altogether debut and interesting acting from Connor Swindells.
The Vanishing was originally inspired by the Flannan Isle mystery. A small relief boat approaches the Isle, a tiny isolated island, offering three temporary lighthouse keepers. It nears the dock and none of the men greet them. The winch is broken and experienced keepers Thomas, James and Donald have vanished. The lamps are clean and refilled; the table is laid for dinner. There is an upturned chair. Two sets of yellow oilskins are missing…The men were never found. This true story has inspired the film, providing a tale for what happened, with the discovery of a box and the contents, leading to a confrontational situation with some Danish men, on this Isle in the Outer Hebrides.
Peter Mullan performed a role that we are very much acquainted with from him, whereas Butler was portraying a man going mad from killing, somewhat of a Macbeth, whilst the character Connor Swindells plays is somewhat provoking, and taunting, which leads to his demise. Watching this film, it is not surprising to learn that the Danish director has also directed episodes of TV series The Killing, if we concern ourselves with the grade and cinematography. It’s tragically too long, and a harsher edit might have made it seem less like an endurance test, as we are given insights into characters I feel I may have met before, particularly in Mullen. Rather underwhelming at points and often with stiff acting from Butler, who moves outside his comfort zone in the character James, The Vanishing has potential and promise, and delivers not quite as succinctly as hoped. Much like a clunky novel, there are moments it becomes frustrating but Nyholm has done well to tell a tale of madness and tragedy with remnants of a true story.
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