Gone (review)

Gone Amanda Seyfried red light

Never Trust a Woman

Of course the world is unfair to women, and women’s concerns are often dimissed as imaginary and hysterical. It’s theoretically possible that Gone is attempting to counter that, wants to maybe even salvage the notion that women are, in fact, to be trusted to interpret the world in rational ways. If so, this sorry excuse for a film is laughable. If it merely wants to be an involving, provocative thriller… well, it fails miserably at that, too.

Amanda Seyfried’s (In Time, Letters to Juliet) Jill escaped from a serial killer last year — because, you know, that happens — and her perfectly understandable trauma after this terrible event is exacerbated by the fact that the cops don’t believe her: they think she invented her kidnapping and terrorizing — because, you know, women do that — not out of malice or deceit but because, you know, she’s looney tunes. As women are. The kicker of Gone is, we’re meant to wonder whether the cops (including Daniel Sunjata [Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Devil Wears Prada], Michael Paré [The Lincoln Lawyer, Postal], and Erin Carufel [The Lincoln Lawyer, Untraceable], all completely wasted) don’t have the correct end of the stick, because isn’t it perfectly reasonable that women invent their own traumatic near-death fantasies? (With “friends” like this movie, the feminist cause doesn’t need enemies.) So, when Jill’s sister (Emily Wickersham: I Am Number Four, Remember Me) goes missing in a way that could have a plausible explanation or might not, and Jill is convinced it’s the serial killer come back to finish what he started, she is forced to investigate on her own, because the cops, you know, think she’s looney tunes.

As we are invited to speculate on all the various permutations of what might really be going on — there is no sister! no, wait, Jill is the serial killer! no, wait… etc — we are presented with the one cop (Wes Bentley: The Hunger Games, Underworld: Awakening) who’s on Jill’s side because (wait for it…) he “likes crazy girls.” (Yeah, there’s a ringing endorsement for women’s agency.) And we are presented with a dichotomy the upshot of which is unkind to Jill no matter what the “twist” might be. For as she goes about girl-detecting, she is far too slick and smooth a liar as she invents, repeatedly and on the spot, completely ficticious scenarios as the excuses for her “interrogations” of witnesses. (She cannot, as a cop would do, present a badge and demand answers, so she has to play the innocent and concernful granddaughter, niece, etc, just looking for answers that will help the ones she loves.) Most sane people are not such crafty and inventive liars — that is a talent of sociopaths, who make few distinctions between truth and lies, and who are very good at manipuating the human emotions of those of us who do actually feel.

I’m not going to spoil the ending, but it doesn’t matter: even if Jill isn’t crazy, hasn’t made up her own attack and isn’t wrong about her sister’s disappeance, she’s still crazy, because she does not behave like a sane person. (Another tipoff: she sees the presence of duct tape in a truck, in an apartment, as evidence of serial-killerness. As if everyone doesn’t have duct tape in their junk drawer or utility room.) However this might end, screenwriter Allison Burnett (Underworld: Awakening) has set things up so that Jill cannot win even if she wins, and director Heitor Dhalia is too invested in “Jill as crazy bitch” — in a radical-cute way — that there’s not much left for anyone who would like to see a woman onscreen who is cool and competent without being crazy or kooky, as if those are the only personality types open to women characters.

So, you know, *argh,* *grrr,* etc.

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