It's difficult to be too hard on Gone because everyone seems to be trying really hard. The problem is that every aspect of the film is at war with itself.
The PG-13 rating neuters it and keeps it from being as twisted as it should have been; the script loses so much focus in the final ten minutes that the entire premise of the film is lost.
There are characters that exist only as red herrings. When their purpose is fulfilled, they are discarded and never seen again.
Almost every good moment is counteracted by a bad one. Even though the film is competently made and has a solid lead performance by Amanda Seyfried, it doesn't stand up to five minutes of scrutiny once the closing credits roll.
Seyfried (Veronica Mars) plays Jill, a broken young woman going through the second-worst night of her life. Two years earlier, she was kidnapped and thrown into a giant hole in Portland's Forest Park. She escaped by digging up a splintered bone and stabbing her captor with it. However, she couldn't lead the cops back to the scene, and, surprise, they think the abduction is all in her head. Adding insult, they have her committed to a mental hospital.
Flash to present day: Jill is living with her sister and is starting to feel normal again - that is until her sister disappears in the middle of the night. Instantly, Jill suspects it was her attacker getting revenge. She calls the police who spend the entire movie trying to hunt her down instead of listening to what she's saying.
The amount of effort they put into tracking her down and arresting her - because she has an unlicensed handgun - instead of just rationally following the facts, is stunning. As the movie progresses, Jill keeps finding evidence that would lead anyone to surmise that someone is responsible for her sister's disappearance, but authorities always find a way to dismiss her theories. The result is a film so slavishly dedicated to the is-or-isn't-she-crazy question, that the cops end up being plot devices instead of genuine characters.
In the end, the question unravels because the script isn't remotely interested in the answer. The film's even-handed direction and steady pace do a pretty great job building the tension in the final half of the film. But once the big question is resolved, it barrels ahead to the conclusion without looking back at any of the events that preceded it. This left me confused. I wondered if director Heitor Dhalia thought he had made a mystery, a character study or a psychological thriller. Whatever the case, the Dhalia failed on all accounts.
The film is diverting and fast-paced, but the final 10 minutes are so rushed and sloppily thrown together that it's impossible for me to look at the film as anything other than an interesting failure. Dhalia tries awfully hard to impress the viewer with slick direction, a few excellent moments of suspense and a nuanced performance by Seyfried, but I can't give a film a pass because of a few interesting pieces.
A filmmaker needs to be able to combine all of the strong elements of a movie in a way that solidifies the whole and makes it a consistent piece of art. Sadly, the folks behind Gone didn't realize this and just made a collection of scenes that are gradually revealed to be heading nowhere.
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Sunjata, Wes Bentley, Jennifer Carpenter
and Sebastian Stan.
Directed by Heitor Dhalia.