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Vanishing, The


Stars: Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan, Connor Swindells, Olafur, Darri Olafsson, Gary Lewis, Soren Malling

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm

Once upon a time - well, 1900, actually - three lighthouse keepers disappeared from a Scottish lighthouse.

Now, armed with an effective, extremely foul-mouthed screenplay by Joe Bone and Celyn Jones, the real-life Flannan Isles mystery reimagines the fate of the trio of the missing lighthouse keepers in a gritty melodrama which works rather better as a character study than as an entirely convincing thriller.

Veteran lighthouse men Butler and Marshall, along with young apprentice Swindells, have begun their six-week shift when they find a boat containing an apparent corpse and a wooden chest that has been washed ashore. But when they start to pull the boat ashore the 'corpse' wakes up and attacks Swindell who kills the man with a rock.

Then the discovery that the chest contains a fortune in gold bars triggers mounting suspense and melodrama involving invading 'pirates' in a bloody, brutal 'treasure-driven' tragedy that gains in impact from strong performances and well-used and evocative Scottish island locations, which add valuable credibility to the mounting melodramatics.

Butler, who also doubles as one of the film's 22 credited producers, delivers a potent performance that overrides the impressive beard that partly hides his features and strong support comes from his co-stars in a mostly compelling melodrama efficiently put across by Danish director Kristoffer Nyholm.

(Incidentally, subtitles might have been useful for those filmgoers who do not speak Scottish).

Alan Frank

UK 2018. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 26 Apr 2019