Take 3: Without a Trace Review + 35 Follower Thank You

Because I received 35 followers on 18 Cinema Lane earlier this week, it’s time for me to review a film that turned 35 years old in 2018! While looking at my options for which film to watch, I came across a film from 1983 called Without a Trace. After reading the movie’s synopsis, I became intrigued by the mystery aspect of the film. As a fan of the mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I do enjoy a story that is intriguing and engaging. My interest for Without a Trace grew when I discovered that it was loosely based on a true story. I was curious about how this real-life event would influence the film. Keep reading to see how I feel about Without a Trace!

Without a Trace poster
Without a Trace poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Without_a_Trace.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The whole cast in this movie was good! Kate Nelligan’s portrayal of Susan Selky was definitely one of the highlights of this film! Her performance was so emotional and versatile, that it felt like her character’s emotions were being transferred from her own personal feelings to the audience, allowing viewers to worry about Alex’s fate alongside Susan. I also thought that Kathleen Widdoes’ portrayal of the psychic, Ms. Hauser, was captivating and memorable. Kathleen’s acting talents were so versatile, it had the power to keep viewers engaged in the events happening on-screen.


The story: The basic premise of Without a Trace is figuring out what happened to Alex Selky. This story is treated like a mystery, where anyone could be a suspect and every possibility is explored. The way this narrative is written allows the audience members to solve the mystery alongside the characters. Because there are few scenes that feature Alex, it encourages viewers to ask “whodunit” and keeps them engaged as the story unfolds.


Comparisons and differences between the early ‘80s and today: Because this movie was released in 1983, I knew there was going to be some differences between the depicted world in the film and the world outside the film today. However, I was surprised by how many of the film’s topics were those that are still being brought up 35 years later. In a scene where Alex’s parents and Detective Al Menetti are being interviewed by several journalists, one journalist asks Al if Alex, a 6 year old child, was too young to be walking to school all by himself. As I watched this film for the first time in 2018, I found myself asking this exact same question. It was also interesting to see and hear how things appeared differently in the early ‘80s compared to today. In one scene, Jocelyn, Susan’s friend, asks Susan why the police aren’t using computers to solve missing persons cases. Because computers have a larger presence in society now than they did 35 years ago, I would have assumed that most crimes are solved with the use of computers. But, it stood out to me how the screenwriters were thinking that far ahead into the future at how some situations, such as those found in Without a Trace, could be improved upon.

Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of suspense: When I first read the synopsis for Without a Trace, I was expecting a mystery story with suspense and intrigue throughout the film. While this movie did have intrigue, there was very little suspense that was found. There was such a lack of suspense that it made the characters appear like they didn’t have a sense of urgency. This is not a good thing, especially when a film’s plot revolves around a kidnapping.


The run-time: Without a Trace is a 2-hour long film. This caused the movie to contain scenes that felt like were included just for the sake of satisfying this run-time. This run-time also made the movie feel longer than it was probably intended. Personally, I think that Without a Trace’s run-time should have been an hour and 25 to 30 minutes. This way, it would allow the story to be more suspenseful and keep the intrigue going throughout the film.


The pace: Without a Trace’s pace was slow. This pace made some scenes drag on longer than they might have been intended. It was also the result of a longer run-time, where these scenes were possibly drawn out to fill Without a Trace’s 2 hour long time-frame.

Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Without a Trace is an ok film. Yes, this movie did have its flaws. However, I could tell that the effort, from the movie’s creative team, to make a compelling and thought-provoking film was there, even if that effort was not as strong as I would have hoped. When looking back on this film, I still can’t get over how some things have stayed the same. Trends change, popularity rises and falls, and style evolves. But certain subjects and messages are the things that remain everlasting. As I mentioned earlier, I knew there were going to be differences between the world of the ‘80s that appeared on my tv screen and the real world of 2018 that I’m living in today. Despite these differences, it’s the similarities that left a lasting and the biggest impression on me as I share this film with all my readers and followers. Thank you, once again, for making this review possible. 18 Cinema Lane would not be the same without you.


Overall score: 6.5 out of 10


Have you seen Without a Trace? What’s your favorite mystery story? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!


Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen