Gone Girl Review

Posted: October 10, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

Back in 1960, director Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho was released amidst a veil of secrecy where its plot was concerned, and now fifty-four years later, David Fincher’s Gone Girl arrives under similar circumstances. To get straight to the point, the film itself is yet another home run for one of the best directors in the business today, filled to the brim with the signature slick style and storytelling we’ve come to expect of the auteur, but talking about it in any kind of too specific detail paints myself, and many other reviewers into a corner. Not unlike Psycho, the desire to not spoil any of the surprises in the story is definitely an issue — especially for those who haven’t read the 2012 source novel — and I’ll keep to that desire and try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible while still urging you to go see the film; something which must absolutely be done.

Author Gillian Flynn adapts her own work, which is the story of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne. Nick and Amy have been married for a few short years, and as the film opens, it’s their fifth anniversary. However, Nick isn’t in the most pleasant mood about it. His melancholic feelings soon turn to ones of confusion, though, when he returns home to find an unsettling scene: an overturned ottoman, a shattered glass table and traces of blood on the floor. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) soon determine it to be a missing persons case, which forces Nick into the limelight as the investigation slowly starts up. Aided all the while by his sister Margo (Carrie Coon), Nick soon finds himself having to battle an increasingly negative public perception of himself as the case takes more than a few unexpected turns, despite his repeated assertions of innocence.

Just a few weeks before the release of this movie, I took the liberty of reading Gillian Flynn’s novel, mainly because I just couldn’t help myself. Now, even though a lot of the dark delight of this plot comes from not really knowing where it’s going next, my knowing the trajectory of the story ultimately didn’t impede my enjoyment of the film at all. In fact, I’d say it enhanced it because I could go ahead and pick up on a lot of the small nuances and clues sprinkled throughout that one would normally pick up on during a second, third or fourth viewing. More importantly, though, I could spend more time focusing on the story aspect that Fincher and Flynn clearly recognize as the overarching theme: marriage. Gone Girl isn’t simply an impeccably-executed mystery; the mystery is instead a vehicle being used to explore the implications and ideas at the heart of the story, and they’re the sort of implications that will not only make you think as you walk away from the movie, but also leave you unsettled. What are those implications, exactly? Well, I can’t get into that without ruining some of the fun, and Gone Girl is definitely a movie one should experience as freshly as they can. From the tone, the performances and especially the score, David Fincher (not for the first time) has delivered a film designed to get under your skin, something which it succeeds in doing.

Ben Affleck has been experiencing a renaissance career-wise as of late, whether it be as a director or as an actor, and he keeps that streak going with his performance here. What’s so interesting about Nick Dunne is the nature of his character. He’s the one we’re meant to be pulling for as the story progresses, but at the same time, certain things come to light about him that don’t exactly paint him in the most flattering way, and yet Affleck is able to keep a sense of sympathy alive in Nick, even in the face of such gray morals. The character has a very intriguing arc over the course of the film, and Affleck sells it every step of the way. Firing on all cylinders right alongside Affleck is Rosamund Pike, whose work in other films up until now I’ve generally found to be solid, but here she just goes to a whole ‘nother level. It’s hard — very hard — to go into any more detail about how great her performance is without getting into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that I found Pike’s acting in this film to be Oscar-worthy; she has many scenes where she gets to shine. Fincher rounds out the rest of the cast with a pretty eclectic mix. You’ve got Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit as the two main cops, each bringing their own sense of determination, Carrie Coon as Margo offering up a welcome dose of black humor to the proceedings, Tyler Perry as defense attorney Tanner Bolt, nicely capturing that smarmy charm inherent in a character like this, and Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collings, a mysterious and slightly off-putting ex of Amy’s. Before seeing the movie or reading the book, I found Harris to be a curious choice for such a role, but I was pleasantly surprised, as he’s able to take the greasy, womanizing characteristics of Barney on How I Met Your Mother and put a slightly darker spin on it — to great effect. If there’s one thing to take away from the acting as a whole in Gone Girl, it’s that David Fincher never miscasts his films.

Gillian Flynn puts the same sense of uneasiness that permeates the novel into the film as well, and David Fincher enhances it through his reliably fantastic direction. Gone Girl is yet another long movie for him, but Fincher’s tight sense of pacing ensures that the length is never felt at any moment. His pale color palette also suits the tone of the story well, and as always, Fincher manages to find quite a few opportunities to get some great shots and integrate another awesome score from Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. As if the story itself already weren’t interesting enough, David Fincher finds ways to make it even more so, and even though this isn’t his first mystery movie, there’s still such a liveliness in his direction. God, do I love this guy.

Do yourself a favor and see Gone Girl as soon as possible, because it joins the list of movies like Psycho, The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense where you need to be ahead of the “twist talk”, or otherwise risk being spoiled. And now we wait for David Fincher’s next movie.

****/****

Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Michael. Though I can’t say it’s Fincher’s best, it’s still a great piece that deserves to be seen. Especially for how much unabashed fun it is.

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