I wanted to start out with how after watching War Horse, I had many choices that night (a good movie or a movie I worked in) but instead I chose to see Gone, because I’m good at decisions for which I don’t have to pay. That I highly disliked Amanda Seyfried because she, sober, can only get roles that Lindsay Lohan would when she’s constantly intoxicated and that I miss Lohan and I’m glad that she’s back. That how Seyfried obtusely chooses movies so terrible that Kristen Stewart selling her soul seems dignified in comparison. Or how she talks, in interviews, the way an intoxicated person would when you’re sober. The movie itself isn’t bad, but it is a hot mess.
In Gone Seyfried’s character Jill starts out just on the edge of normalcy, suspicious walks to Portland’s Forest Park and all, until her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) is nowhere to be found, not leaving a note nor without a change of outside clothes. She reports this incident as a missing persons case to the police like Det. Pete Hood (Wes Bentley) who hears this news while clouded by the knowledge that she’s also an ex-kidnap victim two years ago and believes that her abductor has been taking the other young women who are missing in Portland and is out to kill her because she was the one who got away. She has also been diagnosed and mentally institutionalized for a year before her sister has taken her home.
Her police report is a crucial scene, at first revealing the details of what her memory says what has happened between the last time she has seen Molly – which is before she left for her night shift at the diner (I guess that despite her mental state she has to take what she can get, or that this could have been her job when she was ‘normal’) – and the present. She talks meticulously, like a paranoiac who remembers every detail for when something bad happens to her or to her only family.
One of the movie’s contrivances is that the police is hell-bent on ignoring her at the price of her life and her sister’s. They show their doubts, revealing other cases when ‘responsible’ women become ‘wild,’ and that’s when Seyfried stops sustaining her arc and starts yelling uncontrollably at them. Maybe she needed a better director to guide her to when she’s supposed to be belligerent or calm. But whatever she does for the rest of the movie – lying to her neighbors or ‘interview subjects,’ pretending to a couple of twelve-year olds that she can get them backstage passes to a Justin Bieber concert, toting a gun and finding Molly and the killer herself – will be marred by how she behaves during her worst. It’s too early for her ‘crazy’ scene either way, which is also the fault of the structure of the screenplay.
But the script, between car chases, isn’t that bad, portraying the vernacular of these characters in their private lives. Molly tells Jill that they should get fat together. A police officer tells his female partner that ‘when a man hits a woman a second time, she’s an accomplice.’ A skateboarder tells Jill that his girlfriend thinks that another man – sorry if you had to follow all of that – has ‘rape-y’ eyes. We hear the way women talk to each other, men talk to women about other women and women telling what they really think of men. It’s the whispered prejudices pasted into two hours or less of a movie, along with its leading actress who tries her best and the Craigslist-like meeting she dives into in the end, that are this movie’s saving graces. 2.5/5
So I missed the first 20 minutes of this. Sophie Sheridan (Amada Seyfried) invites three of her potential fathers (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, who are more shirtless than the women in this film will ever be) to the Greek island resort that she and her mother runs. She does so because it’s her wedding soon and she wants to know which one is the real father. Her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) doesn’t know about all of this. We wouldn’t suspect sluttiness from someone wearing overalls.
Oh hai Sky, Dominic Cooper having the most ‘decent’ character here for his CV. Also hai Julie Walters, who gets blindsided by bad lighting when she’s with her co-stars. Thankfully she gets a song of her own that’s also an ABBA favourite and does her best to sell it, just like some of the other supporting cast do. Also Skarsgard in his most all-American.
Seyfried here can handle the comic aspects of this film as with her earlier films. She talks over and under other characters so naturally and sometimes behaves as if she’s surprised by her own words. She and Meryl match both in the emotional levels, rapport and blonde hair. This movie makes the case for her being the best Meryl Streep’s daughter figure in film, the spot held by Lindsay Lohan’s underrated performance in A Prairie Home Companion, but thankfully Seyfried’s whining here still makes Lohan the victor. Speaking of mother-daughter, Michelle Pfeiffer was considered to play Donna, both Seyfried and Pfeiffer having those wide captivating eyes. Before I get depressed.
Oh no, the depression won’t stop, that despite the film does remind me of the licentiousness of the disco group in a time when they seemed tame compared to punk bands, ABBA’s music going well with the women reflecting on their former ways. As well as those ways haunting them when Donna realizes what the former has done. Streep’s vocals and interpretation are the best in this cast, making the lyrics lighter instead of growling them or evoking too much emotion from them. There’s also literal transition between the characters speaking and singing, which I very much appreciate.
Nonetheless they’re still butchering ABBA. And I can’t believe I’m actually putting ABBA on a pedestal by writing that sentence. It’s either Donna Sheridan and her friends (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) sounding like karaoke that comes up short. There’s also Seyfried being pop autotuned, and I’m not even blaming her for that. I actually like her rendition of “I Have a Dream,” a song I know because Westlife covered it. The seventies flair just isn’t always there, only coming up in songs sung by the chorus group. There’s an ABBA song once every five minutes, reminding us of the cast’s imperfect renditions. Of course, the adapted musical tradition of the songs being used in a montage. There’s also me hating the sight of men in swimsuits for the first time because they’re in flippers and singing another song. Why is Brosnan the lead male cast member? He has great chemistry with Streep, both cancelling each other out, but did they have to give him the most songs? I also don’t mind his voice, but it’s not like he can pay me to listen to him sing again. Also, why is Seyfried wearing a peasant skirt? I know it’s a resort but that trend is three years too old!
For someone dipping her foot into film, director Phyllida Lloyd jumps her camera from one place to another, going against theatrical staging/POV’s. Which I appreciate actually, even if I’m a snob when it comes to letting adapted musicals/plays on film staying as stage-y and with a meditative pace as many musicals and/or plays are. She use the scenes well and making it, I guess, cinematic in its spaciousness. She also makes everything happens so snappily, portraying what seems like a two-day time frame.
I also like the Aegean blue used in the mise-en-scene and costumes. They even use the blue in the shot in Donna’s bedroom, in both cases feminizing a normally masculine colour. The few times the film noticeably breaks from the colour palette happen in the film’s third act is when Donna wears a pink scarf with her blue dress, as she’s pouring her heart out to Brosnan’s character. The second time will be the yellows and browns leading to the wedding scene. I don’t know what those colours mean.
Nonetheless everything and the Chekovian crack on the floor, I forgive this movie for all its transgressions.
And to tell me how to dress for my party is Karen (Amanda Seyfried).
‘On Wednesdays, we wear pink!’
‘Like, if I was wearing sweatpants right now, I’d be sitting with the art freaks.’ Of course, Karen, I never wear sweatpants outside the house. I have dignity.
But seriously, I say those lines ALL. THE TIME.
Atom Egoyan has the benefit of a conventionally beautiful Hollywood cast and make them straddle between that and the common non celebrities that they were playing. The bridge in Chloe’s (Amanda Seyfried) nose disappears, Catherine (Julianne Moore) is Freckle City, David (Liam Neeson) looks like the typical British person who moves to Toronto and says “soccer” – yes, those people exist and they piss me off. Michael looks like the Torontonian with one or two weird features. Not saying that white people in Toronto have weird features, the upper middle class are beautiful and Nordic, just like half of the cast members I talked about. And there’s also the name dropping of certain places that makes me feel like this is supposed to be some twisted love letter to Toronto or something.
With that sort of ordinary people look is the ordinary people outlook. Specifically, a robotic, cynical, urban outlook of sex. Catherine is a gynecologist who tells a mousy troubled virgin that an orgasm is just a series of muscular contractions. Appetizing. Chloe narrates that she knows how to touch a man and what words to say, in an unconvincing baby voice but the text should stand in for her character. The sex scene between them is more honest than it is erotic, which I’m glad for that.
Which is why it’s so contradicts how Chloe would fall in love with her female client and stalk her. The arc between professional prostitute to histrionic stalker wasn’t done well, and Amanda Seyfried couldn’t make the material work. She’s the right age in the second half of the movie, but too young for the first half. And she keeps wearing that same jacket every single time and there’s no way that’s warm enough. Chloe and Catherine’s mindset may break down and succumb to the erotic but within two extremes?
Michael, however, is enjoyable to watch as the ungrateful private son and probably has the best put-downs in movie history (“Isn’t my mom your gynecologist?”). But he and Chloe eventually consummate because he’s a horny teenager and she’s just that good in seducing everyone, right?
There is an honestly good scene between Catherine and David putting all the cards in the table. They talk over each other, they say everything with conviction, they’re neither loud or campy enough to get the attention of everyone else in the cafe. But Chloe has to show up and ruin every other scene she’s in.
And I guess it’s my Torontonian cynicism about sex and adultery. Good examples either rationalize the act, that their partners are neglectful or that the adulterers have a memory they like to cling to. Most of the time in this movie I just kept shaking my head at these fucking idiots.
Listen Atom Egoyan. I know where you hang out, and when I see you I will panhandle the shit out of you. At least George Clooney is good enough to those who saw his Batman in theatres.