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April 22, 2012

Gone (2012)
Director: Heitor Dhalia
Actors: Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Sunjata, Wes Bentley

Review: 'Gone' Starring Amanda Seyfried Is A Zero Sum Detective ...

Synopsis: Jill Parrish (Amanda Seyfried) sets out to uncover the whereabouts of her missing sister, fearing she may have been abducted by the same man who took her the previous year.

Review: This Hollywood debut from Brazilian filmmaker, Heitor Dhalia, is the cinematic equivalent of a great page-turner. It’s one of the most purely thrilling genre films of recent times, although, in some respects, its end effect is greater than the sum of its parts.

It certainly won’t be a film that lingers on your mind for days after viewing. That said, it’s full of good workmanlike craft, and Dhalia does good things with his Portland location, saturating his melancholic story in the rainy palette familiar from other recent works set in the Pacific Northwest – Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park and William Friedkin’s The Hunted immediately spring to mind. It’s also effective that we’re thrown straight into the mystery of the piece with the opening sequence of Amanda Seyfried’s Jill Parrish hiking through the ominous looking park just outside downtown Portland. And from thereon, the film is one long adrenaline-fuelled joyride as Jill sets out to uncover where, and indeed if, her sister was abducted.

The film’s main problem that if you begin to attempt to rationalise it, you’ll expose a whole host of plot holes. To list them all would be too exhaustive and in a sense counter-intuitive to a film whose main remit is to entertain. But there is definitely a conflict between the film’s base thriller aspirations and a pretension towards something more psychodramatic. It looks like Jill is being set up as a classic unreliable narrator à la The Machinist or Fight Club, but this thread is fudged badly by the end. Also the central killer identity has no basic whodunnit logic.

I must confess (spoiler alert), that when I saw the relatively big name of Wes Bentley in an ambiguous supporting role as the seemingly friendly cop, and when he conveniently disappears at the film’s climax just as the killer is about to be unmasked, I was putting two and two together….Until the killer is revealed as a hitherto unintroduced character, and Bentley bizarrely isn’t mentioned again in the film at all. It’s an example of the film’s strange narrative ellisions and detours, but, overall, it doesn’t detract too much from the pulp watchability of Gone(April 2012)

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