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Everyday thousands of people go missing without any signs or traces of where they may have gone to or why they disappeared. Sometimes people just get fed up with their regular lives and decide to move on so that they may start afresh and live a fresh fulfilling life. Others just have lost touch with reality and merely wish to get away from it all so that they don’t have to deal with what troubles them. Other scenarios include abduction, murder, black market selling, and goodness knows what else. But then there is also a large number of missing people that are never found. No information is ever revealed in their disappearance. They have simply vanished leaving heartache and confusion in their wake.
Leanne Wellings is a young mother, who with her two children, decide to stop by a roadside vendor to purchase some flowers. Her two children are left in the car and Leanne tells them she’ll be back soon. Shortly thereafter, Leanne vanishes without a trace and her kids are forced to walk home by themselves as they are scared and totally confused. Young Ethan (seven years old) and Rose (four years old) do not understand why their mother has left them or where she could have gone, but all they know is that she is no longer around.
That is day one.
It is then that a massive search and rescue mission is put into operation. No one knows exactly where to start or how to start looking, but they are determined to find out what happened to Leanne and the children. Over the course of four more important days: days three, twenty-eight, thirty-three, and seventy-nine, police, friends, and family members band together to try and find some shred of information that may lead them to unravel this mystery. The father of the young children, Matt, seems to be the most puzzling. So many things have led others to believe he is a prime suspect. But as the questions start being thrown at him in rapid-fire, others also start being put under the spotlight.
Five Days is an interesting look at how the investigation of missing people can continue for months and even years, but there are few particular moments, few particular days that usually shed the most light. Each episode is one of the five days listed earlier and adds new information to this search that makes everything clearer and then more complicated all at the same time. Questions arise making someone a suspect for one minute and then an innocent bystander the next. Every main aspect of this investigation is shown at their most important moments so that the viewers can get the full effect.
What is interesting about this mini-series is that it takes a show like Law & Order: Criminal Intent or CSI and broadens it out into five consecutive hours. But it also takes it a step further. While watching those shows, the viewer will see both sides of the crime and witness the police work while also watching the guilty parties on the run. In Five Days, only the side of the police is shown and just enough information is given out so that the viewers must follow along carefully in order to keep up. While there are moments that drag in the later days like “twenty-eight” and “thirty-three,” those are also the times when we get to see Leanne’s family and how they are dealing with this tragedy.
The film is shown in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks very good for a specifically shot for HBO project. The colors are bright and there is a slight hue over the entire film giving it more of the morose mood brought about by the subject.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it also does a more then adequate job for the feature. All dialogue can be heard perfectly with no overlapping in sound effects and the musical score.
Behind The Mystery With Writer Gwyneth Hughes – The writer is the daughter of a former cop who feels strongly about the topic of missing women. In this thirteen-minute behind the scene feature, she merely discusses the subject matter of the film and how all five parts came about.
For a mystery cop drama slowed down into five episodes, it really wasn’t that bad. When the DVD set first arrived and I saw that it was five hours long and a mini-series (I knew nothing about it before it showed up), my attitude about it got kind of dim. Crime dramas are a favorite of mine, but this just seemed like a bit much for one case. Still, it was kept incredibly intriguing and felt like an episode of The First 48 drawn out over a long period of time. Yes, you will find some drier and dull moments during the third and fourth episodes, but those are there to give you the full effect of this case and how it is treating the family as a whole. I actually thought I had figured out who the culprit was after the second episode, but after finishing the whole thing…I can’t remember now who my mind was set on. Is my memory bad or what? The lone special feature isn’t much, but gives a nice background on the writer. A rental is strongly suggested here, but do it on a weekend when you have the time to devote to it.
HBO Home Video presents Five Days. Directed by: Otto Bathurst, Simon Curtis. Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Janet McTeer, David Oyelowo, Edward Woodward. Written by: Gwyneth Hughes. Running time: 300 minutes on 2 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: March 11, 2008. Available at Amazon.com