22 April 2012

Review: Gone

(Dir: Heitor Dahlia, 2012)

1, 2, 3, 5, 4. That’s how I was expecting Gone to go. In other words, I was expecting a pretty generic thriller that followed convention. I wasn’t too wrong to be honest, although Gone does offer up a couple of elements that I wouldn’t necessarily call deviations from this line, but they're elements that play with expectations just a little more interestingly than I anticipated. But wait a minute, this seems like I'm getting ahead of myself, as if I’m at point 4 where I needn’t be yet. Let's jump back a bit.

Gone is about a girl, Jill (Amanda Seyfried), who comes home from work early one morning to find her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) not there as expected. This leaves Jill freaked out as she’s mentally fragile, recovering from the torment of having escaped a serial killer who was never caught. Her instant rationale in this situation is that the killer has come back looking for her and has taken Molly instead. The police however are just convinced that she’s a nut. So did any of this really happen? This is what we must figure out as Jill rushes around hunting for Molly.

The plot is achingly familiar but rather than turning into a police procedural it mostly plays out from Jill’s perspective, which means it doesn’t get as hampered down with the formalities that would otherwise be required. We do still see fragments of police work, but they’re more focused on trying to keep tabs on Jill rather than solve an abduction / track a possible serial killer. The narrative drives along at a decent pace with different clues constantly being picked up as we go. Fortunately the question of sanity / insanity adds an element of uncertainty not only to the plot, but also to how we perceive Jill. There's the possibility that the extreme determination she possesses could make her a tragic figure rather than the desperate heroine she's trying to be.

Seyfried is pretty good in the role, successfully channeling these emotions thus making her fairly believable, with the right amount of imbalance thrown in alongside her frantic logic. However, due to the fact that you never really know which side of the sanity fence she's on, I struggled to sympathise with her, and there were times she was sailing close to the annoying line. The rest of the cast are fine, although I was left wondering what attracted the next two most recognisable faces to their roles in Gone, as they didn't feel substantial enough to warrant them. It’s also worth mentioning one scene that did impress me that appears in the latter part of the film - taking place in a car it's simply a long phone conversation, but it did a quietly effective job of building tension and a sense of uncertainty. More scenes like this would've been good!

Gone is essentially a generic thriller which despite a couple of interesting ideas, doesn’t do much to elevate itself beyond the “once watched easily forgotten” pile that the vast majority of films of this ilk so easily end up on. Nonetheless it’s an entertaining enough watch and it certainly helps that it moves along at a decent pace and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, whilst Seyfried makes it watchable. But despite my core film watching principle that everything is best seen at the cinema, this is perhaps one of those films that doesn’t need to be. So back to describing the plot in numbers, it's really 1, 2, 3... I won’t spoil it!

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