Directed by Heitor Dhalia and written by Allison Burnett, Gone is a satisfying psychological thriller. The film has sadly been panned by critics, but there are layers at work in this picture that make it significantly more captivating than standard thriller fare. While it may well be tempting to dismiss this as another clichéd thriller, Gone has a lot more to offer than immediately meets the eye.
At its core, Gone is a film about victimization. The police officers in the movie are far from ideal protectors of victims, instead behaving in all sorts of inappropriate ways toward the protagonist. And the lead character is among many victims who’ve been failed by the system, leading to comparisons to the Pickton case in British Columbia and similar tragedies that could’ve been avoided had they been taken seriously.
Amanda Seyfried stars as Jill, a woman who lives with her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham). Molly is a recovering alcoholic and Jill was abducted and held captive just over a year ago. The police doubted her story, having not found any evidence and having cause to consider Jill mentally ill on account of her parents’ having passed away years ago.
Jill is understandably paranoid and distrustful of police and men in general. When Molly goes missing, she believes that it is the same man who abducted her and goes to the police. The cops brazenly brush Jill off and send her home, but she decides to track who she believes the abductor is and takes matters into her own more than capable hands.
Dhalia’s flick is structured like a standard thriller and that may prove too familiar for some viewers, but there are a lot of little pieces to this larger puzzle worth exploring. The narrative about victimization kicks into gear immediately after Jill first goes to the police. She encounters resistance, rudeness and almost an attitude of smugness as they essentially tell her to go home despite having a very good case in reporting her sister missing. “Adults have a right to disappear,” says one cop who should face one hell of an inquest.
This may ring as unbelievable to some, but police officers have been known to turn the other way before and it comes off as plausible in this instance. The actions of the authorities victimize Jill again, compounding her psychological distress and shattering her reconstructed walls. To further the theme, Gone features snippets of a flippant conversation between two officers (one male, one female) about cheating and domestic violence.
Seyfried’s character spends most of the picture discarded as a “crazy bitch” and treated like a lunatic, but her belief in what’s real carries her through. Despite the efforts of many around her to invalidate her experiences, Jill knows the truth and is dedicated to finding out what happened to Molly. This puts her in some precarious positions (and some thriller clichés), but Seyfried gamely handles the bumps in the road.
Gone works because it knows the psychology element of the psychological thriller well. Burnett’s script is lean and muscular; it never makes things too obvious but still plants enough seeds to cast doubt on the accounts of virtually all of the characters. Jill is presented as a somewhat unreliable character and that keeps the guessing game going nicely.
Gone is the sort of film that deserves a chance, in my humble opinion. It is a multifaceted thriller, but it is not a convoluted one. It has a satiating ending (and a hell of a line from Jill when she closes the door on the cops) and feels relevant in the face of police ineptitude and abuse from those in positions of authority. A movie about what it means to be a victim, Gone is worth checking out.