Gone (2012)

Plagued by visions of a kidnapping and attempted murder that may or may not have happened, Jill Conway (Amanda Seyfried) is trying to put the previous year’s trauma behind her while working shifts at a local diner and living at home with her recovering alcoholic sister (Emily Wickersham). When Molly vanishes the night before an important exam, Jill is faced with the terrifying possibility that her own kidnapper has returned and taken her sister in her place. With the local police department (led by Daniel Sunjata’s sceptical Sgt. Powers) tired of her unfounded allegations and mindful of her fragile mental state, and Molly’s boyfriend (Sebastian Stan) worried that she isn’t missing but drunk, Jill sets out alone in pursuit of her sister.

Contrary to that blog I wrote suggesting the opposite, I do rather like Amanda Seyfried. Even in the unremarkable likes of Dear John and Letters to Juliet – and in the downright offensive Red Riding Hood – Seyfried often proves somewhat of a diamond in the rough. OK, well maybe “diamond” is taking it a bit far, after all, while perfectly watchable, she has hardly been courting awards with her choice of challenging roles. A ruby in the rough, then. Or maybe some marble.

The same is true here, in director Heitor Dhalia’s Gone, the first of five movies starring the actress to be released this year. The calm at the centre of a narrative shitstorm, Seyfried just about carries this wannabe thriller with one of her strongest performances to date. Expected to walk a fine line between damaged and deranged, leaving open the possibility that this is all taking place within her own head, it is to the actress’ credit that by the time the big reveal roles around you are still invested in the character’s journey, whether she is guilty or not. Unfortunately, the rest is out of her hands.

You could be forgiven for thinking that something smells distinctly fishy; indeed, there are so many red herrings forced sardine-style into the narrative that the stench should be little short of overpowering. From the diners in her workplace to the man dating her sister, just about every character in Gone – Jill included – is painted as a suspect, their hands practically red with blood. As Jill investigates her way around Portland, changing her story at every turn, what should be an kinetic rush for answers descends awkwardly into a passive involvement in the neverending twists and turns, with only a moderate investment in our heroine’s safety, because – well, because she was really rather good in Mamma Mia!.

If the lead up is bad, then the resolution is worse. With just about every extra programmed with exactly the information Jill needs to take her through an alphabet of leads, the thing just about out-paces boredom. But when time starts running out and Jill finally tracks her answers down, director Dhalia loses what little hold he has over our patience as the story jumps unflinchingly from Z to crazy. To call the finale unsatisfying is to be kind; it is one of the most ludicrous, feckless and downright infuriating conclusions you could ever imagine. Only you couldn’t. Ever.

What starts out as a harmlessly genteel pseudo-thriller, then, doesn’t quite accumulate enough good will to get you past the last hurdle. Considering just how heavy handedly Dhalia draws his possible answers, the chosen ending suggests that he had no business asking questions in the first place.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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