If You’re Gone
If You’re Gone traces a trying summer for rising high school senior Lillian White (Masey McLain) as she struggles to cope with the sudden disappearance of her boyfriend, Brad Lee, reported missing the morning after his graduation ceremony. When law enforcement dismisses the case and classifies Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn’t have just walked away. Not from his friends. Not from his family. Not from her. Launching her own investigation into the darker side of her small North Carolina town, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad’s past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship, as well as her own faith, in hopes of finding him.
Brad and Lillian are the picture-perfect couple: adoring, innocent, with a loyal group of friends and a quaint small town to call home. Brad is a kind, thoughtful former party boy who is head over heels for Lil, a beautiful songbird, churchgoing girl. With Lil in his life, Brad is finally able to put his sordid past behind him and create a new reputation for himself. Or so everyone thought.
Their storybook romance comes to a sudden stop with Brad’s mysterious, unexpected disappearance. Wracked with guilt, fear and worry, Lil is consumed with Brad’s disappearance, losing herself, friends, and her peace in the relentless pursuit for the truth of what happened to him. She even begins to lose faith and doubts God as she watches her prayers for his safe return go unanswered day after day. As more and more information comes to light, Lil discovers she may not have known Brad—or herself—as well as she thought.
If You’re Gone is, on one hand, a fantastic faith-friendly film. On the other, it’s a powerful cautionary tale as well as a compelling teen drama. It’s so refreshing to watch a teen-drama film that doesn’t have all the language, sexualization and partying, yet, does have a solid story that is not only enjoyable to watch, but thought-provoking and dramatic (actual drama, not like, “save the drama for your momma” drama). There’s also an intriguing comparison to be drawn from the parables Jesus spoke about the lost and found. This film is a winner on all counts.
Lil loses her identity within the relationship with Brad and takes his disappearance very hard. Spiraling into a deep depression, her faith that was once so strong grows weaker and weaker by the day. She begins to doubt herself, her relationship with Brad, and God. Hope deferred is too much for her to take as she dives deeper into efforts to find him. Her life is consumed by the grief and unknown of him being gone.
Ultimately, this film does not end with a perfect resolution, which is to its credit. Some films aim to wrap up everything neatly and happily, but this film reaches a more powerful and stirring conclusion: two lost young people, walking their own path for faith and future. As Lil realizes, Brad was broken before meeting her, and now she is the one who is broken. It was she who supposedly saved him, but now they are both lost, just in different ways—much like the coin or the sheep Jesus spoke about.
The Dove Take
If You’re Gone, which starts out as a typical teen romance, seamlessly morphs into a compelling drama about self-discovery and faith. Lil’s devastating journey is a powerful lesson for young people and adults alike: Don’t lose yourself in a relationship. Don’t neglect your faith or abandon it just because you haven’t received your expectation yet. We award If You’re Gone the Dove-Approved Seal for All Ages.