Sometimes, in spite of all the acumen behind a film, it still cannot manage to lift itself from the ground and become something worth recommending. Such is the sad case with you, Gone. There are quite a few aspects to your production that would otherwise make you a slight but worthy little film (very little, as you’re less than an hour and a half long). However, because of some basic story flaws, you just can’t rise above the mire to become something special, or even more than ordinary.
Which is odd, because at heart your story had some potential for an interesting movie. Jill (Amanda Seyfriend) is still recovering from the trauma of being abducted and nearly killed over a year ago. The thing is, no one believes that she was truly ever in the clutches of a killer. The police could find no evidence of her captivity, and soon enough she was institutionalized and given a spectrum of medication to take. Her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) may believe her, but she’s too busy being worried about Jill’s mental health to really commit to the issue one way or another. When her sister goes missing, Jill assumes that her would-be killer has returned and taken her sister by mistake.
The push-pull between Jill’s paranoid but heartfelt entreaties and the firmly held and strong evidenced belief that she might be insane could have made for compelling cinema. Unfortunately, you never seem to expect the audience to believe that she might be nuts. Rather, you ask us to understand that people have a reason to think this, but they are obviously wrong.
It doesn’t help that you manage to portray Portland as a kind of slummy madhouse filled purely with oddly well-off students and waitresses among a sea of creepy, suspicious weirdos. The police are the worst offenders, though. The rookie detective Hood, played with cadaverous, red-herring flare by Wes Bentley, comes the closest to being a real human. All the rest of the cops seem to be imported from a Steven King novel. They are at turns inept and outright full of contempt at the idea of having to do their job.
However, Seyfriend does a pretty good job of investing her one-note character with some vague moments of humanity and pathos. She has an extraterrestrial beauty to her that serves to blunt the frankly bizzare behavior you make her indulge in. She seriously comes off as the vessel for all the world’s poor decision making. Meanwhile, Wickersham bites her lip to try to portray everything from concern to love to apprehension. Luckily, she may or may not spend 95% of your story in a hole in the woods.
The direction by Heitor Dhalia is competent. That may sound like an insult, but in truth it is the most that can be hope for from a movie that, on such a basic level, leaves very little to be expected. It would have been easy for him to try to create tension through the use of shaky-cam nonsense, but instead he buckles down and just makes you a damn comprehensible film. Likewise, cinematographer Michael Grady manages to make your wooded parks and urban alleys as beautiful as possible.
Where does this leave us at the end of our time together? Honestly, I am not upset that I saw you, even though I did it kind of against my will. You were inoffensive, well made, and frankly slightly entertaining from time to time. What was done with you was probably the most that could have been hoped for given the circumstances, and that is something.
Brian J. Roan