Film Review: Gone (1/5)
Gone is one of those rare films in which everything that can go wrong does. Jill Conway (Amanda Seyfried) is a woman convinced that she was abducted and left to die in a hole a year previously, but the police and her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) are sceptical, owing to her time spent in a mental institution. Then Molly disappears, and Jill’s appeals for help fall on deaf ears - so she turns private eye and essentially falls at every hurdle in her attempt to track down the kidnapper.
But the storyline of Gone is not the biggest issue at hand. It’s tedious, generic, as grey as the landscapes of Portland it depicts, and a better third act is sandwiched between the wanting quality of everything that came before and a poorly thought-out ending. The title is, I’d hope, a reference to the audience after the first ten minutes.
The meat of the tale involves Jill’s pursuit of her nameless, faceless killer after the police send her on her way, save for the new kid (Wes Bentley) who offers to help her out. He’s played out as a shifty type, like he might be suspicious, but like many things in the film he is misrepresented and poorly constructed, and it turns out he doesn’t really add anything to the film save for a few minutes of vacant stares. Much of the film is like this, but Jill’s private detective work is painfully ill-conceived.
From a run-down locksmith store to a hardware vendor and beyond, all whilst evading the law after pulling a gun in public, Seyfried plays Jill as a wide-eyed moron who wildly flails about and squeals like an irritated child. There’s nothing to like, nothing to root for, and the connections she makes are constructed with the laziest of links. There’s too many convenient things for her to pick up on - a discarded receipt, a shop assistant who knows that little bit too much about a random stranger - and the red herrings bore rather than surprise, as you can bet your bottom dollar that somebody will show up with an all-too-handy hint showing where to go next.
When the action turns from a hunt into a direct pursuit, there’s actually a little masterstroke of tension to be found. The latter scenes take Jill down a darkened forest path with just the headlights of a 4x4 and the voice of a potential abductor on speakerphone for company, and there’s slight relief when things reach a conclusion. But the sequence and the ending that follows are both so mind-numbingly bad, and badly scripted, that any plaudits which came before evaporate into the ether, replaced by frustration at director Heitor Dhalia for messing up so much.
Gone joins the ranks of films such as The Devil Inside in that it was not screened for critics. That distributor Summit Entertainment saw fit to blank reviewers speaks volumes about their confidence in the film and in Dhalia. I keep my fingers crossed in the hope that he isn’t given any work for a while.