is Missing (1965)
The most enjoyable parts of the movie are not, however, those narrating the search for Ann's missing child, but the appearances of the minor characters played by Noel Coward and Martita Hunt. The former is a Chihuahua wielding intellectual and alcoholic who has a skull he claims to be that of the Marquis de Sade, and the latter is the retired founder of Bunny's school who spends her time recording and writing about the nightmares of children. Both are wonderfully well realized and absolutely delightful to watch.
While none of the other actors are as entertaining as are Coward and Hunt, most do give competent performances. Olivier displays his usual considerable talents, and Carol Lynley acquits herself well as an increasingly frantic mother. Dullea's performance, however, is so overdone that it is a real distraction. Through much of Bunny Lake is Missing, when the girl's existence is being questioned, Dullea's overacting leaves the viewer with little doubt about the direction in which the film will go.
Sadly, even without his performance, Ann's possible mental illness is so thoroughly corroborated by various pieces of evidence that the viewer realizes events will inevitably show this evidence in a different light. The moviegoer knows this is a red herring and, consequently, is never as able to immerse himself in the film as he could have done had the director been more subtle in his storytelling.
Thanks to the skilled performances of Olivier, Coward, and Hunt, who all bring their characters to life and make the moments they are on screen especially enjoyable, Bunny Lake is Missing is, despite its flaws, an entertaining film. It even manages, at times, to evoke a real sense of fear and suspense.
Review by Keith Allen
Allen. All rights reserved.