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Gone: An 'Is She Crazy, Is She Sane' Psychological Thriller
Jill (Seyfried) doesn’t have the best relationship with the police. After being kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the middle of the forest, which she luckily managed to escape from, the police refused to believe a word she said and stuck her in a mental institution. Fast forward a bit and she’s out of the loony bin, dealing with anxiety problems, carrying a gun and taking kickboxing lessons. She comes home one day from her waitressing job to find her sister gone. Convinced that the kidnapper came back for her and took Molly (Wickersham) instead, she tries to get the police to take her claims seriously, but to no avail. Left with no other choice, she takes to the streets piecing together the clues to find Molly and her kidnapper, before time runs out.
This thriller requires you to suspend your powers of logic for a while. While for the most part it tries to be more of a psychological thriller, the moments which require Jill to do some actual sleuthing are a long shot - to put it mildly. The clues she finds as to the kidnapper’s whereabouts are either absurdly simple or completely farfetched. The latter in particular are a real crime since the kidnapper keeps asserting that he kidnapped Molly to lure Jill. If his aim was truly to lure Jill, the clues he left her wouldn’t have been so discreet, random and easily overlooked.
Also, the characters are pretty shallow. The police officers are uniformly incompetent or lazy or a mixture of both. They stand around looking annoyed for the whole film. As for Jill, she’s rather strange. She fluctuates between two states: one in which she’s single-mindedly obsessed with saving her sister and the other in which she compulsively lies to everyone she meets. The first is logical and, based on her own history with the kidnapper and her relationship with Molly, highly understandable. The latter however is just plain odd. We’re never given a motive or reason for why she’s such a pathological liar and it seems rather out of character. Would somebody in her nerve-wracking situation have it in them to lie so well, or keep their numerous stories straight for that matter? We’re told that Jill stuck to her story for the entire time that she was locked up in hospital. Would somebody who wouldn’t tell a fib to get out of a mental hospital become a chronic liar?
In addition to being a liar, the film also keeps trying to push the possibility that Jill isn’t really all there in the head, though seeing as it’s Jill’s word against that of the useless police force, the idea never really registers the way it should in order to give the film a decent psychological bend and keep the viewers guessing.
Despite its inconsistencies, Gone manages to be a decent, light thriller until the ending which derails the film completely. It’s not innovative and the film is very basic despite the attempt to give it depth. However, it’s rather fast paced and Seyfried makes for a very watchable heroine, even if her character makes little sense and is unworthy of her talent.
Previously titled, All Creatures Big and Small and Two by Two before that, Oops! Noah is Gone is the latest European animated-take on the familiar Bible tale which has decided to spin the story of Noah’s Ark and tell it through the eyes of the animals. Cute but, awfully unengaging, the film manages to offer a few laughs but, unfortunately, not enough to override its flimsy script and generally unexciting plot.
The story follows the escapades of Dave (Malloney) and his son, Finny (Magennis); a pair of brightly-coloured troll-like creatures called Nestrians, who are shocked to learn that they won’t be allowed on board the specially-designed ark that is to take all of the animals of the world to safety until the enormous flood passes.
In order to sneak past the security, the two decide to dress up and disguise themselves as members of Hazel (Flynn) and her daughter, Leah’s(Connolly) family; cat-like beings called the grymps. However, when the floodwaters begin to rise, Finny and his newly-found ‘sister’ soon find themselves separated from the big boat and join forces with a blob-like creature called, Obesey (Tylak) who will help the two youngsters find their way back to the arc while their parents, are doing everything in their power to convince the lion captain (voiced by Stanford) to go back and find their kids.
Written and directed by Toby Genkel and Sean McCormack, Oops! Noah is Gone isn’t the worst animated feature you’ll see; the bright colours and the zany pacing will keep the youngsters happy and there’s a certain level of cuteness behind its main characters that even adults can’t deny. However, it’s certainly not the best one out there, either. Standing as a cross-between Ice Age, Madagascar and Finding Nemo - minus the heart – Oops! Noah is Gone – a film with almost no mention of Noah - feels underdeveloped and annoyingly unfocused and while kids may have fun watching it unfold frantically on screen, there’s nothing to appeal to adults.
The jokes – of the poo-poo and pee-pee nature mostly – are aplenty and the quality of the CGI, although decent enough, don’t have that wow factor that is expected from an animated feature of 2015 which unfortunately, has to share its world with the ‘big boys of animation’ such as DreamWorks and Pixar.
Based on 2009 Oscar-winning Argentine film titled, El Secreto de sus Ojos, Billy Ray’s Hollywood adaptation of the original looked promising from the get-go thanks to its first-class cast. Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor are a formidable team and the plot – at least on paper – has enough gravitas to it to produce something solid. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work out that way.
As the man behind the screenplay to 2013’s Captain Phillips, Ray also penned the adaptation and opens proceedings in 2002 with FBI Agent, Ray Caston (Ejiofor), working together with friend and partner Jess Cobb (Roberts) in LA’s counter-terrorism taskforce one year after the events of 9/11. Together with Deputy DA Claire Sloan (Kidman) the task force is busy investigating an L.A-based mosque, looking for any possible criminal activity.
Everything soon changes when, during one of their surveillance routines, Raymond and Jess discover a murder victim near the mosque which turns out to be Jess’ teenage daughter. Thirteen years later, no one has been convicted of the murder, pushing Ray to take matters into his own hands after stumbling on new leads.
Jumping back and forth between 2002 and 2015, Secret in Their Eyes worksin terms of mood and setting; a film noir-like backdrop effectively conveys the grim topics. However, even though the film manages the moving timelines with a great deal of efficiency, there’s a formulaic and unimaginative approach to the basics of the plot which strips it of having any real impact. In addition, one too many subplots - including a romantic entanglement between Kidman and Ejiofor which never really sells - are introduced and instead of focusing on the working relationship and the bond between Ejiofor - a commendable lead - and Roberts - who is captivating as the grieving mother but, criminally underused - the film seemingly lends its focus on more trivial details.
Interesting but never as captivating as its synopsis suggests, Secret in Their Eyes is a decent dramatic thriller, but falls well short of the original – but then what remake ever does?