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February 25, 2012
Review - " Gone "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Heitor Dhalial
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Wes Bentley, Jennifer
Carpenter, Michael Pare, Joel David Moore, Sam Upton

Gone is a surprisingly engaging thriller, in large part
because of its lead character, a young woman who finds
herself in a situation which requires the use of her wits and
keen powers of observation. Her name is Jill (Amanda
Seyfried). A year ago, she narrowly escaped the clutches of
a serial killer who kidnapped her, gagged and bound her
with duct tape, and dragged her to a hole in a desolate area
of a sprawling forest just outside Portland. Now her sister, a
college student named Molly (Emily Wickersham), has gone
missing. Jill is convinced that her kidnapper is responsible;
he must have come back forher, but because she was
working the night shift at a local diner, he took Molly instead.
Jill must find him before he kills Molly and buries her at the
bottom of that hole, right alongside several other missing

The odds are not in Jill's favor, which adds tremendous
interest to the story. After she escaped, Jill came forward to
the police with no physical evidence, no signs of bodily harm
such as defensive wounds or sexual assault, and no
description of her kidnapper. She claims she was abducted
while she was still in bed, and yet there was no evidence of
forced entry into her home. The experience, according to
the police, was all in her head - a break with reality following
a recent personal tragedy. As a result, she was involuntarily
institutionalized for several months and forced to start a
regiment of psychiatric medication. Adding insult to injury, its
widely known that Molly is a recovering alcoholic. Its not
inconceivable that her disappearance is because of a
sudden relapse.
Even after institutionalization and mandated therapy sessions, and despite Molly's reputation, Jill is sticking to her story. She
has been a thorn in the side of the local police, always coming at them with reports of other missing girls, which she has
been keeping track of. Molly's disappearance has made her an even bigger pain. The only cop whos willing to consider the
possibility that Jill is telling the truth is the new recruit, Peter Hood (Wes Bentley), he not only gives her his card, he also lets
her program her number into his cell phone. But even then, Jill quickly realizes that only she can save her sister. And so, in
defiance of the authorities, she arms herself and begins a one-woman city-wide investigation, one that will inevitably lead her
back to the forest she was taken to a year earlier.

As unoriginal as the plot admittedly is, there's something to be said for the way Seyfried's character is developed. Jill's
kidnapping, while understandably traumatic, has taught her to be aware of her surroundings. She pays attention to the
smallest of details, from the fact that Molly was last seen wearing a pajama top and boxers to their color and pattern. She
immediately notices that (a) all of Molly's schoolbooks remain on the kitchen table,despite the fact that she had an important
final exam that very day, and (b) one of Molly's ear studs is on the floor. She knows to keep in contact with associates and
friends, including Molly's boyfriend (Sebastian Stan). She proves herself amazingly resourceful and cunning, not just in how
she gets leads but also in the way she questions the people she comes across, from neighbors to store owners.

Too often, movies make it very easy to tell who the heroes and villains are in a film. "Gone" does no such thing. It makes us
think we know who the good and bad guys are, then pulls the rug out from under us and makes us rethink everything we
thought we knew.

There's a fascinating paradox at work, here: Jill uses her brains in a situation shes emotionally vested in. Theres no denying
that, above all else, painful memories of her own kidnapping are motivating her. All the same, she understands that locating
Molly and bringing her abductor to justice requires a clear head and the ability to reason. Its not simply a matter of locating
them both; its also a matter of evading the police, who are now after her. If it were strictly an emotional reaction on her part,
if she was nothing more than a crazed vigilante with a gun, we would have no reason to invest in her. At least, not as much.
Perhaps the mystery of Molly's disappearance would be enough to keep us going.

Seyfried is very good as the
tormented Jill, who may or may
not be making things up.
Whether or not she is lying is
almost beside the point. It is
fun to watch her pose as so
many different characters as
she interviews people for clues.
The fact that the audience is
unnerved as she works
towards finding a sister that
may or may not exist is
because Seyfried sells the part.

Director Heitor Dhalia draws
good performances out of the
rest of the cast, even those
whose parts are very small. He
connects all the dots very well
leading up to the conclusion,
which will reveal whether Jill is
truly crazy or if she was right
all along. No matter which
ending the audience is rooting
for, "Gone" will still entertain
right up until the end.