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'Disappearances'

The story of Wild Bill, who isn’t wild, and Quebec Bill, who isn’t from Quebec

The third in Jay Craven’s trilogy of “Vermont frontier films,” Disappearances is at heart the story of a boy and his weirdo dad: Wild Bill (Charlie McDermott), who isn’t wild, and Quebec Bill (Kris Kristofferson), who definitely isn’t from Quebec. They live on a farm (presumably not very profitable, since Bill père spends his days cooking up schemes to seed the clouds), along with the prophetess-esque Aunt Cordelia (a dazed-looking Geneviève Bujold), who sees dead people and has a thing for Paradise Lost. When the barn that houses the family menagerie burns down in a lightning storm, the two embark on a bootlegging run across the Canadian border. The promised payoff? A cool grand, plus some requisite father-son bonding time. What might have been a pleasant exercise in nostalgia for Prohibition-era hijinks is ruined by phony mysticism and a too-intricate subplot involving “the feral whiskey pirate Carajou” (Lothaire Bluteau), who may or may not be Quebec Bill’s long-lost, long-hated dad. Kristofferson is charming, but he leans too heavily on his bad boy persona. McDermott, meanwhile, is fatally miscast; the tone and cadence of his eye-rolling Oh, Dad’s are pure ’90s sitcom.

 
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