If, as suspected, both Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock walk off with the best actor and actress Oscars on Sunday, 7 March, do you think some resourceful rep-house programmer will think to quickly book a film that they made together some seventeen years ago?
Bridges played the creepy psychotic who arbitrarily snatches Bullock away from Keifer Sutherland, burying her alive, in "The Vanishing," George Sluizer's 1993 American remake of his own 1988 Dutch film, the by-far superior "Spoorloos." The crime is carried out as a heartless, methodical experiment. The point isn't necessarily to torture the Bullock character but to observe Sutherland as he squirms in helplessness.
However, what seemed like a thing of sadistic beauty in the European version comes across a tad too literal in the American remake, even though the two films are virtually carbon copies of each other. It's amazing how subtitles can camouflage the vulgar, disguising it as artistry.
Michael Haneke's English-language remake of his "Funny Games" (1997/2007) suffered from the same disasterous disconnect.
Nevertheless, Bridges, Bullock (in the film's smallest role), Sutherland and Nancy Travis (a woefully underused actress who appears here as a woman who tries to assist Sutherland in his search) are all in fine form.
Hopefully, if "The Vanishing" does enterprisingly reappear after the Oscars, it should be presented in tandem with "Spoorloos." Ideally.
Note in Passing: Coincidentally, the American remake will receive a series of showings on the Fox Movie Channel - 8 March at 10 p.m. (est), 9 March at 2 a.m., 27 March at 8 and 10 p.m., 28 March at midnight, 12 April at 10 p.m. and 20 April at 8 p.m.