MacGuffin Film Review – Missing Pieces

Film Review – Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces is an independent project shot on an extremely small budget. The creators of this project put a lot of effort into this film, especially in the camerawork, the varied locations, and feel of this film. The film is about a guy going through a tough break-up after he’s had an accident. He tries to get something intangible (advice, emotion, ideas, understanding, vicarious living, etc) from a young couple he’s met. I’m not sure all of this film makes sense to me, as it’s wildly disjunct, but it appears intentional, so I’m assuming the director and writer of the film would call this a success. I’m not really sure it is, since I found it difficult to follow.

The movie starts out with what appears to be a crazy man (as in legit, mentally disturbed/depressed) whose girlfriend is yelling at him for not taking his medicine. He’s eating cereal with a ladle after he pours milk into the bag. Odd, but vaguely college-y, I suppose. Turns out the crazy guy is a delivery truck driver, delivering a bunch of different things for a lot of different people. Crazy guy is working on some sort of dog shock collar and knocks himself out. Randomly, he goes to a children’s playground and smashes a bunch of florescent tube lights on all the equipment. There’s glass everywhere. Then, he goes through some of the boxes in the back of his truck and pulls puzzle pieces out of boxes that are being shipped somewhere. Maybe this guy hates children or something. His girlfriend comes home and yells at him for missing her art show, but he lies and says he found a dog and took it to the pound. Apparently, he’s been in some sort of car crash and he’s not been acting the same way he used to. She’s really frustrated with him and i’ts clear she wants out. At some point during the movie, she leaves the guy and he does everything he can to get her back.

Meanwhile, there’s a young kid, Daylen, who’s working at the gate of an amusement park early in the morning. There is also a girl named Maggie, who works as a shelf-stocker at a grocery store. These two people have been given a stack of letters by the crazy guy with hours of the day written on each envelope. Every hour, they’re supposed to open one of the letters and read the contents—basically the letters are filled with questions they’re supposed to ask each other. However, there is some sort of shock collar they’re supposed to wear which doesn’t allow them to run away or escape. It seems relatively voluntary though. Every hour there’s an alarm that goes off reminding them to open a letter and ask each other questions. The couple always appears to be in desolate areas in the desert, or in the snow, or in the woods, or floating down a river on a home-made raft. The two teens are smiling at each other and look like they’re having fun, but it’s always just an odd place for them to be doing something like this. The whole time, the crazy guy is filming, photographing, and recording every scene, and jotting down notes.

I think the film is flashing backward and forward, but it is impossible to tell. The two kids seem like they’re getting to know each other, although the girl seems to be going along with it a lot more than the boy does. It’s clear she’s got a crush on the boy (even to me, and I’m a dummy—ask my fiancée). The boys gets fed up with being filmed and runs after the camera guy. The camera guy zaps her, and then I’m not sure what happens.

The crazy delivery guy is back at the gates of the amusement park again talking to the boy. The conversation leads to what the crazy guy can do to get his lady back. He asks the kid for advice. The kid says to paint her a picture, since his former girlfriend is an artist, so he goes and watches some Bob Ross DVDs and tries to come up with something. He goes to his ex’s house and stashes some big surprise in her house (she’s pissed because he broke in). She’s still not having it and is pretty firm about things being over between them.

The young couple is supposed to set a boat on fire, along with a bunch of boxes, according to the letter. The crazy guy ends up coming after the couple while wearing a giant owl head. I told you it was really twisted. There are flashbacks of the crazy guy back when he was happy, then while he’s laying in a hospital bed, then a car crash, then the young couple wrestling him in the woods. The guy obviously has had some sort of accident, but it’s hard to tell if he had the crazy before the accident or if the accident caused it.

The whole thing bounces back and forth between flashback and present day. It is extremely difficult to figure out what’s going on with the plot. There are random scenes thrown in all over the plac,e and it’s clear this film was hodge-podged together and is missing a lot of linear plot. It’s not that the film is bad, it’s just confusing, even for fans of David Lynch or John Waters. At the end of the film, I’m not sure if I’ve learned some moral lesson, if I’ve developed empathy for the crazy guy or one of the kids, if I’ve been horribly depressed coupled with confusion, or if I’ve absolutely missed some highly cerebral symbolism and have missed out on something important that would tie everything together. Like I said earlier, it’s well shot and pretty well acted, but the flow needs some work. After watching the extras and the making of the film, I wasn’t surprised to hear it got rejected from Sundance and SXSW film festivals. It simply isn’t entertaining, nor does it command your attention. The whole film feels like it takes four hours to watch, while in actuality it’s only 117 minutes. And now having read the plot of the film on Wikipedia, there are entire portions of the plot that were not conveyed to the viewer in a way that I picked up on. I’m not a fan of movies where you have to read the back of the box or read a plot synopsis to understand what’s happening. The movie should stand on its own, and this one clearly doesn’t do that very well.

Final Grade: C-

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