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New Review: Gone Girl (2014)
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens Patrick Fugit, Lola Kirke, Boyd Holbrook, Lisa Banes, David Clennon, Kathleen Rose Perkins
Movies like Gone Girl make a reviewer's job nigh impossible. There is a lot about the movie that's praiseworthy, and yet it has such a twisted and unpredictable plot that it's difficult to talk about without giving something away. On the surface, this is an exceedingly well-acted and expertly directed thriller, with some very amusing satirical jabs at a very particular TV personality. For a good hour, the movie follows a simple yet very engaging narrative. But once that first hour passes.....
Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the film's script), the movie stars Ben Affleck as Missouri bar owner Nick Dunne, who returns home on the day of his five year anniversary to find that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing and signs of a struggle in the living room. He calls the police, and the hard-nosed detective Rhonda Birney (Kim Dickens) and her assistant Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) arrive at the scene. They notice some cleaning marks in the kitchen and feel that the scene in the living room looks staged, leading them to believe that someone was trying to cover up a murder. Of course, Nick becomes their number one suspect.
With no one to support him save for his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) and defense attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), tensions rise to a boiling point once it's discovered that not only was Nick fixing to divorce his wife, but he was also having a secret affair with a younger woman (Kathleen Rose Perkins). Clues are left around in envelopes labeled "Clue One" and "Clue Two," and a female neighbor comes forward claiming that not only was Nick abusive, but Amy was also six weeks pregnant with his child. Is Nick really guilty of murder, or is there a much darker plot at work?
There is no force on earth that can get me to say more about the plot than that. Once the set-up is established, the movie proceeds to go in so many dark and different directions that it's impossible to know where the movie's headed next. It's all very well handled by ace director David Fincher, who, along with cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, editor Kirk Baxter, and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, creates an intensely stylish and deeply disturbing psychological thriller. There are moments in the movie that are sure to rattle even the most jaded movie goer, such as a bedroom scene late in the film that ends on a shockingly gruesome note.
The performances are also very strong across the board. Ben Affleck turns in a terrific performance, especially during scenes where he hints at something dark boiling toward the surface (such as a scene where a woman gets her picture taken with him, and he asks her to delete it). Rosamund Pike turns in a spell-binding performance, and shocks you in ways that are best left for you to discover on your own. Tyler Perry turns in what is easily his best performance as Tanner, and Dickens and Fugit offer solid support as the detectives on the case. The film's most compelling performance is turned in by Coon, whose portrayal as Nick's blunt and practical sister serves as a highlight of the movie.
Apart from a party scene in the beginning where the dialogue was impossible to hear, some pacing issues (the movie does go on a little too long), and a news broadcast I found to be just a wee bit contrived, Gone Girl is an engrossing thriller, it just can't be discussed in great detail. Doing so would spoil it for those who haven't read the book, and because I haven't read the book myself, I can't say if the movie deviates in any substantial way from the source material (if it does, talking about it might spoil it for those who have read the book, and are going to see the movie with particular expectations). What can be said is that, in spite of its flaws, Gone Girl is a haunting and fascinating experience, and it is worth seeing. Just don't expect to get any more out of me than that.
Rated R for a scene of graphic bloody violence, some strong sexual content, brief nudity, profanity
Final Grade: *** (out of ****)
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**/**** starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry screenplay by Gillian Flynn, based on her novel directed by David Fincher by Walter Chaw The only question David Fincher's movies try to answer is whether it's possible to