A director (Imamura) and his camera crew investigate a missing person case: Tadashi Oshima, a Tokyo salesman, vanished without a trace two years ago. Yoshie (Hayakawa), Oshima’s fiancée accompanies the crew as they interview his boss, his family back home, a past girlfriend and Yoshie’s sister Sayo. A portrait of Oshima emerges as Imamura and Yoshie become more and more entwined in the shifting mysteries of the man’s life.
With over 90,000 people disappearing every year in Japan (according to the film), Imamura’s inquiry into one man would seem to be a critique of modern societal pressures. But the filmmaker ventures into surprising territory as he questions the perception of truth and documentary filmmaking itself. With “hidden” cameras and an occasional un-synched soundtrack, Imamura keeps us emotionally off balance in this crafty study of the construction of identity.