Gone Girl (2014)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: David Fincher
Written by: Gillian Flynn
Produced by: Artemple-Hollywood, New Regency Pictures, Pacific Standard.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit.
GONE GIRL is an absolutely mesmerizing picture. This is a well made, well written movie building on an already well-written novel by Gillian Flynn. Director David Fincher has added another impeccably masterful thriller to his large body of work.
The film follows NIck Dunne (Ben Affleck), whose wife (Rosamund Pike), on the day of their fifth anniversary, vanishes. Amy’s parents have based their best-selling children’s book series, Amazing Amy off of Amy’s childhood and personal life, and as such a massive media crusade to find her ensues.
Things go awry. The media spotlight gets turned onto Nick as the suspicion grows that he may have killed his wife. It is easy to enter into spoiler territory with this one, as there are several plot twists, all of which are pivotal. Fincher and Flynn have created one of the most scathing critiques of modern marriages and the media I have seen put to film in an incredibly long time.
The first aspect of the film that strikes me as the most compelling are the performances. It’s a great ensemble, but I would like to take the time to highlight Rosamund Pike’s turn as Amy. She has a remarkable voice first off, her American accent, while not necessarily perfect, is sublime to listen to. She delivers her lines with this soothing purr, she is able to communicate to the audience that this character is a woman of great intelligence with very little. She has this screen presence, similar to that of one of the great actresses of old, and while I’ve seen her in other movies, I’ve never seen her quite like this, I’ve never seen her this intense, I’ve never seen her this emotionally naked. She’s absolutely brilliant.
Affleck and the rest are quite good too. People rag on Ben Affleck excessively, forgetting the directing and acting work he’s done in movies like ARGO and GONE, BABY GONE. Here, he is able to give Nick humanity, you never sympathize with him in excess, but you can’t bring yourself to ever outright detest him either. That is a balancing act that takes a lot of hard work to pull off, and Affleck succeeds with gusto.
GONE GIRL is also rich in great supporting work, with the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon, and Tyler Perry (I know, I know) all turning in really subtle performances of nuanced intensity. This is a far better ensemble piece than I could have ever hoped for, every performance works, every actor fits.
How far into detail should I go into the direction? Everybody is surely familiar with Fincher to some extent by now (maybe you saw FIGHT CLUB, ZODIAC, SEVEN, SOCIAL NETWORK, or BENJAMIN BUTTON), and while not all of those films are created equal in other aspects, they all possess one thing in common; excellent, vibrant direction. He brings the same talent here, he seems a lot more confident now than he used to in his early pictures, but it doesn’t come easy. Fincher will typically shoot as many as 30 different takes for a single scene. It does show however, every shot in GONE GIRL feels like it belongs.
Many people will view the twists in GONE GIRL as absurd, seeming like they’d be a better fit in an exploitation film, and they have reason to. That’s the point. One of the themes of GONE GIRL is that you cannot take anything at face value, which can still be applied to the film once it’s twists have been revealed. When you the reader go to see this picture, if you are planning to, look for subtext and allegory in the behavior of the characters. What you find may surprise you; statements on a modern marriage, how a wife views her husband and vice versa, how the media has spun out of control, destroying people’s lives to get an entertaining ‘story’ and profit themselves, the shallow nature of male sexuality and how this societal idea of jumping from one woman to the next as an aspiration goes unaddressed. It’s a thriller wrapped in an allegory wrapped in a social satire.
The script, written by author Gillian Flynn, is equally vicious and vivacious. These characters, inhabited by these actors, talk and feel like real people. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score (which I am listening to currently) is absolutely electric; they continue to deliver one great soundtrack after the next, and I suspect they and Fincher will be collaborating for the foreseeable future.
GONE GIRL is a bleak picture, a dark, depressing, challenging, soul crushing film. It is also a great film that had me transfixed from beginning to end. It is one of the best films of 2014 and I hope to see it again soon.
Suggestion: See it