REVIEW: “Gone Girl”

GONE GIRL POSTER

There are a number of popular modern filmmakers who are beloved by their devoted fans. Interestingly enough, I often find myself a little more mixed when it comes to these directors. David Fincher is a good example. I didn’t like two of his more popular films “Fight Club” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. But I’ve found that Fincher has made more good films that I have appreciated such as “Se7en”, “Zodiac”, and “The Social Network”. His latest film is “Gone Girl” and it can definitely be grouped in with Fincher’s better projects.

Fincher is no stranger to dark and uncomfortable subject matter. It’s a trait of many of his films that sometimes works but other times turns me off. “Gone Girl” has a bit of both, but for the most part the dark material is very effective. It feels like about three movies put into one and the film ends in a very different place than where it began. I can’t honestly say I found each ‘segment’ of the film to be equally compelling, but I can say the movie never flattens.

GONE1

The story begins on the day of Nick and Amy Dunne’s 5th wedding anniversary. Nick (Ben Affleck) returns to his Missouri home to find Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing. Signs indicate a struggle and soon Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) is leading the investigation. Amy’s disappearance attracts a media frenzy and people become obsessed with the never ending cycle of news about the case. As Detective Boney digs deeper she uncovers inconsistencies and holes in Nick’s story. This combined with the media hype ends up making Nick a key person of interest.

To go into any further detail would be doing a huge disservice to the movie. It’s based on Gillian Flynn’s popular 2012 novel so many people will know how it plays out. But lets just say that the narrative takes a significant shift in the second act and an even bigger one in the final act. As I mentioned above these shifts never flatten the film. It maintains its intensity and intrigue throughout. But I do think the movie starts off incredibly strong only to slowly and slightly step away from what I enjoyed most about it. It’s not that the ending isn’t satisfying. In fact I like the way it ended quite a bit. It just seemed like the story strayed a bit in getting there.

GONE2

But I don’t want to cut this film short because it does so many things well. Fincher employs a fractured style of storytelling similar to several of his past films. Carefully crafted and well placed flashbacks are sprinkled in to give us nuggets of information about Amy’s disappearance. But to make things more complicated the audience is frequently fed small bits of unreliable information. Misdirections and red herrings conflict with the truth and muddy any insight into what actually happened. I loved that. I found myself hanging on every exchange and flashback trying to determine fact from fiction.

“Gone Girl” also dabbles in a number of different themes, some more intriguing than others. One such theme is economic hardship and particularly its effects on a marriage. In fact “Gone Girl” seems to project a very cynical view of marriage as a whole. It seems to be constantly nipping at the concept of a happy and stable marriage. Or is it indicting us for our self-centeredness which often destroys marriages? Perhaps its most effective examination is of the media and the sensationalism that seems to follow these events. Tabloid journalism and the predatory tactics of reporters play key roles in the film. And Nick is shown how to use and manipulate the media and their willingness to exaggerate or stretch facts.

GONE3

And then you have the performances. I like Ben Affleck even though I understand some of the criticisms thrown his way. He is often dry and seemingly emotionless. But I find that his acting style often fits the characters he is portraying. That’s definitely the case in “Gone Girl”. Affleck offers the right tone and demeanor and he constantly has us trying to figure him out. But the real star is Rosamund Pike. She is an actress that I have always loved and have wanted to see get bigger roles. Hopefully this will be the performance that finally gets her the attention she deserves.

“Gone Girl” has many of the signature trademarks of a David Fincher film. The visual presentation is moody and comfortless yet perfectly appropriate. The music from Fincher favorites Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor creates atmospheres of tension. Also the film sometimes turns me off by pushing its desired edginess a little too far. All of these things scream Fincher. But where some of his other films in the past squander their potential “Gone Girl” capitalizes on it, at least for the most part.

VERDICT – 4 STARS

 

Advertisements

56 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Gone Girl”

  1. Well written Keith. This is up there certainly for one of my favs of the year, but I too agree that one or two times (specifically at the end) felt way too over the top and shock-value ish. At least I’ll always remember it! Also felt that NPH was sort of odd here, but it may just have been me. Otherwise, this was amazingly done.

    • Thanks a lot man. I appreciate you reading and commenting. It’s definitely a memorable movie and Fincher gets most of it right. Its tense and unpredictable. Glad I saw it without knowing anything about the book.

  2. Glad you like this one Keith! I appreciate some of Fincher’s films but at the same time I can’t say he’s my fave directors. “Se7en”, “Fight Club”, and “The Social Network” are three that I like most so before I saw Gone Girl. This one is an excellent film, and Pike is simply sensational here. Agree w/ what you said about Affleck, somehow his acting style somehow fits the role here. Some people who’ve read the book have said that he makes Nick more sympathetic than he’s described there.

    • I’ve heard that same thing. But I don’t know, I thought he was a scumbag in the movie, at least for the first half of the film. But I do think the movie makes him the more sympathetic party in the end.

      I will say this, I’m happy I had not read the book before seeing the movie. Part of what made the movie so good is its unpredictability. Knowing the outcome would have hurt my experience. At least I think it would.

  3. Nice review, Keith. Definitely agree that this is among Fincher’s better films. I think I can understand what you mean in the way that the story strays away a bit, and having read the book I was actually curious just how smooth a transition the movie was going to make with those same aspects there. But for the most part, I think the film succeeded in that regard, at least about as best as it could.

    • Thanks Chris. It sounds like the book does a lot more to make bothe main characters out to be really despicable human beings. I would think it would give the ending a much different pop. I’m with you though, Fincher does a good job here.

  4. Nice review and like you I thought it was very well made especially with how information is dead to the viewer, taking them along with the whole media circus. Pike was very good in this and I also hope she will get bigger roles based on this performance.

  5. Good review Keith. It was the type of wild and crazy film that Fincher always promises to give us, except this one was a hell of a lot more fun and exciting to sit through.

    • Thanks man. “Wild and crazy” definitely fits. You never quite know where this thing is going. Unless you have read the book of course. I had not so it was all a surprise for me.

  6. Great review Keith. I must say that I felt this was a better return to form for Fincher. Pity to hear you didn’t like Fight Club, I am a huge fan of that. I thought Ben Affleck did a great job realising Nick, but I must say that I was not a fan of the ending (which was changed from the book). I might be shot for this, but as impressive as Pike was, I don’t get the hype…

    • LOL! I’m not going to shoot ya. I’ve had so many unpopular movie opinions already this year! 😀

      Speaking of unpopular opinions – I just don’t get the Fight Club craze. It never connected with me. But it is immensely popular. I must have a mental deficiency!

      • Hehehe, and I know I am in the minority for thinking that!

        Nah, it’s cool. We all have movies.I, for one, much to the horror of most, am NOT an Avengers fan, for instance 😛

  7. Nice review, Keith. I have liked Pike in everything she does. I have been a fan since ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and thought she gave the best performance in ‘Surrogates’. She reminds me of Julianne Moore–ethereal presence (must be the flawless skin), passionate, sensitive, transforming. I hope her career kicks up into high gear, she deserves it. I don’t care for Affleck’s emotionless deliveries, he’s just a wiseguy who I want to wipe the smirk off his face 😉 . I saw an interview with Gillian Flynn and how she adapted her book to the screenplay. How awesome to give credence to your work in two mediums. I’m so jealous. 🙂

    • Thanks Cindy!

      It had to be awesome for Flynn, but also talk about talented. Writing your material for two very different entertainment forms.

      I get what you’re saying about Affleck. In his defense here, I would say his character is somone you should feel that way about. That said, you have me curious about other actors and how they would do in that role.

  8. Great review! I really liked this film, even more than I liked the book. I am usually not a fan of Affleck, but I thought he was terrific here. It is just as you said — his rather stiff, dry style of acting fit the character very well.

    I thought the cynical commentary on marriage was interesting. This is coming from someone who has been married almost 25 years. *LOL* I took it largely as a satire.

    • Thanks so much for the comments.

      I’m really interested to go back and read the book. I like hearing from people who already have. It seems like the film did a good job of capturing most of the elements from the book.

      Yep, I do think Ben Affleck works here. I think the character Colts for a dry and emotionless performance. That’s what makes him hard to read and it times detestable.

      I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what the film was saying about marriage. I know what it felt like to me but I don’t want to say with certainty. I’ve been married 20 years myself and I’m sure that influenced my reading of the marriage message.

    • Pike ofteb got lost in the films she played in. It wasn’t that her performances were bad. Just for some reason they didn’t resonate with many people. I love seeing her getting attention. I’ve always liked her but I’ll be honest, she even surprised me here.

  9. Awesome Review Keith. My take away from this was Rosamund Pike. I mean… wow. I didn’t realize she was capable of this. I couldn’t even praise her performance too much in my own Review to avoid Spoilers or convey any expectations to anyone. But wow. Definitely need to see more of her.

    Like I also felt like the movie spanned multiple genres or like different movies in one. I liked the over all film, but the final act was a little… jarring with way too many questions.

  10. Nice review. This is one of my favorite movies of the year and I think I’d say it’s Fincher’s best since Zodiac. Also, it’s good to see Rosamund Pike get some credit, she was superb.

  11. So glad you liked the film! Pike delivered such an amazing work and I love Amy – she is one of the most fascinating and important characters of the last decade if not longer than that. She is so tricky but Ros really brought her to life. i was sad not all of my fav things from the book made it but as far as adaptations go this one was excellent

    • I’ve noticed many fans of the book have liked this film which says a lot about the adaptation. I haven’t read the book. I’m really curious if I would have had the same reaction if I had known the outcome from the start?

      • Well I know some people who guessed the twist and had a good time but most actually first saw the movie and now they are reading the book 🙂 It’s such an entertaining novel and really digs deeper into Amy and Nick’s minds

      • I’m really interested in reading it. I’m backwards. I like watching the movie first and then letting the both open up the story and characters more. Obviously that isn’t always possible since we don’t know what books will be made into movies.

  12. I can’t agree to this being from Fincher’s better films, I still believe Fight Club, Se7en and Zodiac are his masterpieces and this one sits with the Social Network and Girl with Dragon Tattoo. I liked the fractured storytelling style but for me the story didn’t offer much, also I felt Nick Dunne’s Interview on the TV Programme ‘Sharon’ was kind of plot device used only to move the story forward, so was the money bag falling off while playing mini golf as if they were a part of story only for a sudden turn of events. I felt these were very lame reasons causing the final events.

    • Thanks for the comments. Really appreciate them. This definitely isn’t a perfect film but as a moderate Fincher fan I enjoyed it. And I did kinda like the interview scene. For me it went along well with the whole ‘media sensationalizing news stories’ theme. It showed how he had learned how to play the media for his own gain.

  13. Hey Keith! Great review here. It’s nice to read a review on this film after the rush of reviews when it first opened. Having read the book prior to seeing the film, I felt like the film didn’t quite meet up to some my expectations. But even having said that, I can’t deny what a great film it was. Fincher is a hit-or-miss director for me, too, and I get where you’re coming from. I think you mentioned the strongest points of the film. I imagine Rosamund Pike will not be forgotten when the Oscar nominations are announced.

    • Oh I think you are so right. Pike will absolutely get an Oscar nomination. I’ve always liked her but she never got attention-getting roles.

      The response from those who have read the book has been interesting. For me the big question is how will it hold up after a second viewing. For me the movie was strongest when I didn’t know what was ahead (since I had not read the book). Now that I know, will the movie be as strong?

      • I think that’s the issue with reading a mystery book before seeing the movie. If you already know the ending, it’s hard to get as excited and caught up in the story like the first time around when you read it. I’m tempted to hold off on reading mysteries until I see the film adaptation if I know the film is coming out soon next time. That was probably what made me not like the movie as much as I would have.

  14. Pingback: Movie Review – Age Of Adaline, The |

  15. I can’t wait to see this movie. I’m over half way through the book and thoroughly gripped. I know it has taken me a long time to read it, but I’m happy I am doing so now. And by the sounds of it this adaptation is pretty stellar.

  16. I have such a lot of catching up to do with movies from the last few years. But I’m setting time aside to do just that and also visit the cinema to get new releases.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s