Making the Grades
There’s a hole in this movie—a great big hole in the middle of the forest where a madman dumps kidnapped women before he kills them. At least that’s what Jill Conway (Amanda Seyfried) claims. She maintains she was abducted from her bed and hauled off to the woods where hikers found her dirty and half-delusional a few days later.
A year later when Jill returns from her night shift to find her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) missing, she is convinced her kidnapper has returned. She demands Portland police officer Sgt. Powers (Daniel Sunjata) and his colleagues (Katherine Moenning, Wes Bentley, Michael Paré) start an immediate search for the girl. Yet Sgt. Powers is skeptical. With no trace of forcible entry or other signs of struggle, Jill’s story seems sketchy, especially considering her history of mental illness.
And that’s where other holes in this script begin to become apparent. Though she refuses to let her co-worker walk alone to her car, Jill parks blocks away from her own workplace. She talks with someone on the phone in an area where cell phone service isn’t available. And within hours after the police refuse to help, Jill wheedles enough information out of her non-cooperative neighbors, a drowsy locksmith and an injured janitor, to construct a profile of the assumed assailant and get a cell phone number. Then she’s off, all alone, into the forest where she was held hostage, to find Molly.
The lack of any tangible evidence in the case of the missing Molly makes it easy to understand why police are leery to launch a full-scale search like they did when Jill was found. But as a result, authority figures in this female vigilante story appear uncaring, cynical and even slightly suspect themselves, as does nearly everyone Jill encounters during her manhunt. While the film creates some building tension as Jill enters the forest, it likely has more to do with the niggling uncertainty about whether she is crazy or not. Regardless, common sense would say, “Don’t try this at home.”
In addition to the leaps in logic, the script contains profanities, a strong sexual expletive and the discussion of alcohol and drug abuse. As well, audiences see a silhouette of Seyfried in the shower and some gruesome depictions of dead bodies, kidnapping and killing. But maybe most frightening is the justification Gone gives Jill for taking justice into her own hands, even when that means arming herself and putting many other lives at risk.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Gone.
Why are the police suspicious of Jill’s story? How does the stigma of mental illness affect their view of Jill?
Is Jill’s self-induced isolation from others understandable following her alleged kidnapping? Does that contribute to the misgivings she has about others? Do her solitary walks in the forest make sense considering her experience? Can a lack of interaction with others in our neighborhoods and communities make us more fearful?
How does the film justify Jill’s decision to take the law into her own hands?
Could a film like this discourage people from participating in outdoor activities in the forest? What are reasonable precautions to take? Why is Molly angry that Jill went to the forest alone?