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MOVIE REVIEW

Gone

Seyfried keeps ‘Gone’ going only so far

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By Tom Russo
Globe Correspondent / February 27, 2012
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Hand it to Amanda Seyfried - she seems to have a knack for underplaying unstable characters in a way that lets their nuttiness creep right up on you. In Atom Egoyan’s naughty 2009 thriller, “Chloe,’’ she’s a call girl who seems remarkably issue-free - until she starts sleeping with pretty much the whole cast. In her new, more generic thriller, “Gone,’’ she is a former abduction victim who is convinced that her sister (Emily Wickersham) has just been snatched by the same man. She is chronically on edge, but not over-the-top hysterical, given the situation. And then it starts to register with us: Hmm, that was an odd bit of behavior she just flashed. And so was that, and that.

The conflict here is not so much between Seyfried’s Jill and the mystery abductor as it is between Jill and the police. Daniel Sunjata (“Rescue Me’’) gets some interesting scenes as a police detective who has long since tired of Jill’s continual calls about her unsolved case, and visibly struggles to maintain his professionalism when she makes this new claim. Department newbie Wes Bentley (“There Be Dragons’’) unsubtly plays good cop as he (suspiciously?) gives Jill the attention that his colleagues won’t.

The genre-typical story bits include Jill pulling a gun from her bag to forcibly gather clues, getting herself in ever deeper with the police. The less typical bits come when, say, she fabricates a fresh lie each time she seeks someone’s help in retracing the predator’s steps or ducking the law. Seyfried makes Jill so curiously erratic that after a while you wonder if Sunjata’s character isn’t right about her.

Brazilian director Heitor Dhalia (“Adrift’’) infuses the movie with mostly familiar elements: desaturated colors, a serviceably ominous score, a couple of routine chases that feel low-speed despite the editing. Still, Dhalia makes good use of the movie’s Portland, Ore., locations, from the eeriness of the deep woods to a contained city setting that pretty believably leaves his heroine with few places to hide.

It’s a significant letdown that after all Jill’s running, and all the guessing Seyfried makes us do, the climactic confrontation plays like an uninspired afterthought. Been there, done that, bought the abductee-catharsis T-shirt.

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.

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GONE

Directed by: Heitor Dhalia

Written by: Allison Burnett

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Emily Wickersham, Daniel Sunjata, Wes Bentley, and Jennifer Carpenter

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 95 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (violence and terror, some sexual material, brief language, and drug references)

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