Lisa has come back to Melbourne this week until she moves officially to Sydney next month. We caught up today for a coffee and decided to catch an afternoon session of GONE, Amanda Seyfried’s new blockbuster. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been to Hoyts and I have to say it was a bit of a relief. It was all oversized screens and stained velvet seats, kids throwing popcorn at each other and teenagers having a sneaky pash at the back. There was not a glass of red wine in sight and I didn’t have to endure an overheard conversation on Lacan. Best of all there was none of that ‘Oh yes I get the irony here’ laughter of the dreaded cinema studies audience (hem hem Nova). It was lovely to escape the heat and see a film purely for fun.
I didn’t know much about Gone before we went in. Here’s the general plot: Jill (Seyfried) is a kidnapping survivor trying, and failing, to move on with her life. She spends her days wondering the forest in which she was found, followed by self-defence classes and graveyard shifts at a diner. Her only human connection is with her older sister, Molly. One morning when she returns home from work she finds her sister missing and believes her to have been taken by the same abductor. The police believe she is mentally unstable and that Jill herself was never kidnapped in the first place, so she sets out to find her sister on her own.
There was a lot about this film I liked, especially the general premise. It took a lot from suspense thrillers as well as Noir conventions, with Jill playing both victim and detective. It also had nice blue tones and grimy settings that fitted well.
But there was also a hell of a lot of problems with the general structure which made it hard to enjoy. What did you think Lisa?
Well while I was a little skeptical about this film before seeing it, mostly due to a generally uninspiring trailer, in the end I quite liked it. It was definitely gripping and action packed. Jill was a complex protagonist, tormented by her kidnapping, possibly insane and completely ruthless. Her mental state was superbly played by Seyfried and was very realistic. Her paranoia was her weapon and it often saved her. Her desperation to face down her attacker was gripping and slightly mentally unhinged and her scenes by herself or facing off with the abductor over the phone were the best in the film.
Where the film really didn’t hit the mark was the supporting characters. Possibly the writer concentrated too much on Jill and didn’t have time to flesh out the rest. There are fours cops that Jills tells her story at the beginning of the film. They then spend the rest of the film trying to find her, as she is now a vigilante. Four cops is far too many and only two really serve a purpose, one to believe Jill’s story and another to not believe it, the rest just seen like dead weight.
Another problem was the final confrontation. For a film that is all about suspense and building up to the big showdown, the fight between Jill and the killer left a lot to be desired. It was over too quick and in the end I felt Jill really overcame him far too easily. What do you think Anna?
Agreed on all counts! I never felt like Jill was actually physically strong (I mean look at those nimbly arms!) she was just so nutso that she’d overpower people because they didn’t see it coming. There is no way she’d have won so easily in that conflict. You’re right though, the suspense toward the end was actually built up really well. I don’t know if you noticed me covering my eyes! That long drawn out phone conversation as she drives toward a man that she knows wants to kill her was done incredibly well. I felt the best parts of this film were the simplest. Once it got too bogged down in plot it lost its power.
The other thing I got really annoyed at was the shower scene at the beginning with Jill. The whole film seemed to be trying so hard to set her up as an active subject. They even didn’t cover up the lines on Seyfried’s forehead in order to show that she wasn’t just your average young skinny blonde, but she’d experienced real trauma. But then they have this ridiculous sexy shower scene with the see-through shower curtain that seemed so divorced from the rest of the film. I guess it was just in there for the pubescent boys with zoom functions on their DVD players. I’d be interested to know if that was in the script though.
So what do you reckon Lisa? Good trash or just trash?
Actually, yes, Anna I did notice you covering your eyes. But for some reason I was convinced that you were far too cool to actually be scared and you were just trying to sleep or something. I was pretty frightened there too. Ah yes the shower scene now that you mention it was a little out of place and you couldn’t really see anything much anyway and her character had no sex appeal at all anywhere so it was a bit of a mistake. I have no problem with a bit of nudity but if it really serves no purpose it just makes the filmmaker look like an amateur.
My other big issue with the film, was the way the police treated Jill when they thought she was crazy. It’s no wonder she took matters in her own hands. Trying to patronise, manipulate and trick a mentally ill person made the police look like ignorant egotistical douche bags regardless. In fact I was pretty happy for them to caught up in the line, they totally deserved it. The film would have been far more interesting if the police had of been more sensitive and educated about mental illness, this would have put me more on their side and created more conflict in my mind as to whether Jill was in the right or not. This too would in fact probably be more realistic as police deal with the mentally ill a lot. But by making them all ignorant and angry at Jill you never really felt any empathy for them or were on their side for a moment.
To sum up the I think you’re right the film excels in the basics of suspense thrillers but when it comes to the details of characters and the subtle turning points of the story, it just doesn’t measure up. As such I would have to say, although it’s on the borderline, it’s just trash. What do you think Anna, do you disagree?
Yep, definite trash. Not super trashy trash, but trash none the less!