Director: Heitor Dhalia
Runtime: 94 minutes
Gone does a few things well. For one, the movie is gorgeous to look at. The cinematography on display here by Michael Grady is top notch. Moss-grown forests have the deep, shadowy green hue that makes you feel as though you have entered somewhere primordial and ancient. Urban environments are frosted with day-old rain. There is real craftsmanship in the creation of these images.
Still, when a review begins with technical accolades you pretty much know what that says for the rest of the film, and Gone is no exception to this rule of inference. It’s not so much that the movie is bad. Heitor Dhalia‘s direction, while nothing groundbreaking, is competent and clear. The actors all commit to their roles, such as they are, and the story never plays dirty just to get an intriguing twist in. The problem is that the story, by Allison Burnett, is not nearly as interesting or engaging as it would have to be to make this a film worth recommending.
Jill (Amanda Seyfried) was abducted a year ago and held in a pit in the middle of Forest Park outside of Portland, Oregon. Against all odds she escaped her would-be killer and was able to get to the police. However, after a week of searching turns up no leads, they drop the investigation and have her committed. Now she spends her days combing through missing persons reports, waiting tables, and learning self defense, on top of trying to find her former prison. Then, one day, her sister goes missing, and when the police refuse to help, she must strike out on her own to prove she’s not as crazy as the police believe.
From here the movie becomes a sort of paranoid thriller-by-way-of-missing-person-mystery. Jill tracks down clues and hunts the man who took her sister, shunning the helpful overtures of the rookie Detective Hood. Meanwhile the police are hunting Jill, having assumed she’s gone mad and needs to be brought in.
Sadly, there is no real mystery here. Even though the movie tries hard to make a case for Jill being crazy, the view of the audience never syncs up with the view of the secondary characters. While red herrings are introduced, the identity of the maybe-killer is pretty much set up from the beginning. Choices are made for the sole purpose of trying to create artificial tension, and this obviousness enervates and foundation of interest that could have been.
Seyfried commits to her role, and actually does a decent job in one or two scenes of investing the one-note Jill with something more than just stolid determination. Emily Wickersham, who plays her sister Molly, seems to have attended the Kristen Stewart school of lip-biting as a means of emoting. Wes Bentley is given the unfortunate role of being the creepily helpful detective, which he plays well but lacking any real energy.
When all is said and done, Gone has little to offer. At an hour-and-a-half long it basically shakes out to be a brisk, well-made but thoroughly underwhelming mystery thriller that could play well on a lazy afternoon on HBO or TNT, but falls flat in delivering any big-screen tension.
Gone is now in wide release.
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