Gone is Brazilian director Heitor Dhalia’s first English language film and as such it makes a rather inauspicious debut. Maybe Dhalia, who has five Brazilian-produced features under his belt (most recently the 2009 Cannes Film Festival competitor À Deriva), was just looking for a simple story with which he could practice directing English-speaking actors. Whatever the attraction to Allison Burnett’s fairly generic screenplay, the finished film bombed with moviegoers and critics alike. While there are major problems with Gone, it actually isn’t quite as bad as its reputation suggests.
Jill (Amanda Seyfried) is a waitress struggling with a tortured past. Jill was abducted in the recent past and held captive at the bottom of a well. At least, that’s what she says. Finding no perpetrator and no hard evidence that her story is true, the police concluded that Jill had some kind of psychotic break and imagined the whole thing. She now lives with her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham), haunted by her memories. When she comes home to an empty house following a graveyard shift, Jill is immediately sure that her attacker has returned, this time making off with Molly. The police, already firmly convinced that Jill is bonkers, aren’t having it.
This sets off a briskly paced pursuit as Jill takes the law into her own hands. Armed with a handgun and possessing an uncanny ability to concoct a believable lie for any situation, she feverishly hunts for her sister. This leads to a lot of dead ends and red herrings, none of which are very interesting or plausible. That’s one of two main problems with Gone. Could the kidnapper be creepy Detective Peter Hood (a laughably underused Wes Bentley)? Maybe it’s the weirdo across the street who claims to have witnessed a mysterious van at Jill’s house. Speaking of the van, it’s owned by a locksmith with an awfully squirrely son. Unfortunately, not enough time is devoted to any of these suspects to ever make them realistic possibilities. The most likely explanation is that Jill is having another mental breakdown and her sister just ran off for a night.
Which brings us to the second main problem with Gone–the ending. The entire final act is one huge letdown. The details can’t really be divulged without giving it all away, but let’s just say there isn’t much to reveal in the first place. There is no twist to surprise us as the story reaches its climax, despite the hints that have been dropped the whole time. The central question, “Is this all in Jill’s head or isn’t it,” is answered, but not in anything way that approaches creativity. After a watchable–if sometimes stunningly dull–75 minutes, the final 15 minutes are dumbfounding in the way Jill handles the situation. Seyfried commits fully to the role with a solid performance. She’s a great actress who made an unfortunate choice by taking this role.