Review of Gone


Movie Review: "Gone"

-- Rating: PG-13 (violence, terror, brief language, drug references, some sexual material)
Length: 94 minutes
Release Date: February 24, 2012
Directed by: Heitor Dhalia
Genre: Drama/Thriller

In "Gone," Amanda Seyfried stars as Jill Parrish, a woman who was allegedly kidnapped a year earlier by a mystery abductor. Once she escaped, the police did not believe her story. In fact, they put her into a mental institution because they couldn't find any evidence of her being kidnapped and think she made it all up.

After being released from the institution, she is given medication for her anxiety problems and takes a job as a waitress. She is staying with her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) and still convinced that she did not make up her abductor and tormentor.

A year after she escapes his clutches, she returns home to find Molly missing. Jill almost immediately suspects Molly was taken by accident by the same man who kidnapped her. She believes that he meant to take her, but took Molly by mistake. She calls the police, but Detective Powers (Daniel Sunjata), Lt. Bozeman (Michael Pare) and Officer Ash (Erin Carufel) remember her as the girl who cried wolf a year earlier. Since they didn't believe her story then, they definitely don't believe her now.

The other problem Jill runs into with the police is that there are a few plausible stories as to why Molly is missing. There are enough clues to suggest that she may merely be away for a few days and not kidnapped. The fact that Jill won't listen to rational explanations only makes her seem crazier to the officers.

There is one police officer who does think she might not be nuts. Peter Hood (Wes Bentley) tries to calm Jill down and actually listens to her, even if he is not fully sure whether he believes her or not. Though the script by Allison Burnett wants us to think Jill has a real ally, it is somewhat spoiled by the fact that Hood admits he likes "crazy girls." This feels a bit condescending to Jill, who could use a friend who doesn't think she is crazy, even if he may not believe her story of abduction.

At this point, "Gone" warps into a thriller as Jill, convinced she is right despite the police , decides to take matters into her own hands. She knows she just barely escaped with her life from this man and is afraid that her sister may not be so lucky. She can't rely on the police who not only don't believe her story, but reluctantly look into Molly's case only because they have to. They do such shoddy police work that if this were a comedy, one could call them Keystone Kops.

At this point, viewers are meant to side with Jill in believing her story. The audience will soon get challenged, though. In order to find clues to her sister's whereabouts, Jill must start lying to a lot of people. The fact that she can make up such elaborate lies on the spot begins to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the audience. If Jill can make up quick lies and easily pose as other people to sell the lies, then she could have been lying about being kidnapped, too.

This is where Burnett's script really shines and becomes good. Too often, movies make it very easy to tell who the heroes and villains are in a film. "Gone" does no such thing. It makes us think we know who the good and bad guys are, then pulls the rug out from under us and makes us rethink everything we thought we knew.

Seyfried is very good as the tormented Jill, who may or may not be making things up. Whether or not she is lying is almost beside the point. It is fun to watch her pose as so many different characters as she interviews people for clues. The fact that the audience is unnerved as she works towards finding a sister that may or may not exist is because Seyfried sells the part.

Director Heitor Dhalia draws good performances out of the rest of the cast, even those whose parts are very small. He connects all the dots very well leading up to the conclusion, which will reveal whether Jill is truly crazy or if she was right all along. No matter which ending the audience is rooting for, "Gone" will still entertain right up until the end.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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