Movie Review: Gone Girl

Posted: October 14, 2014 in Film
Tags: , , , , , ,

Man has it been a while since I’ve seen a film that has just wowed me. It’s been equally as long since I’ve seen a film that leaves me speechless. Thankfully David Fincher’s new film, Gone Girl, an adaptation from the novel of the same name, killed those two birds with one stone. I was hooked every second with this movie.  It was one giant gift of masterful storytelling, and outstanding acting.

Now, I should preface this whole review with stating the embarrassing truth: I haven’t read the book [yet]. So I have nothing to compare the film to in terms of structure, characterizations, and all of the other subsequent areas.

The movie follows Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who is married to Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike.) One day Nick returns home to find his house a mess and Amy missing. Cops are called in, and immediately an investigation is underway. But what seems like a kidnapping/missing person’s case quickly turns into a murder investigation with Nick as the prime suspect. Clues mount up pointing to Nick as the culprit to the crime. But where is the body; where is Amy? And a few things don’t quite add up. What actually happened?

Okay, so my summery REALLY does not do the story justice at all. The story itself is a tangled, intricate web woven to sheer perfection. Now from what I understand Fincher took the story and moved things around. I don’t know what exactly he did, but the way it plays out on film is outstanding. The movie is perfectly paced so that there is not a single wasted moment. At the beginning the flashback scenes involving the diary entries felt weird to me and very cold, and hollow. But that is the way they are supposed to be. They are hollow memories, only setting up the more emotional things at the end. There is supposed to be a disconnect, and a difference between the way that the characters are depicted in the flashbacks and the way they are in real life.

The pacing also does a great job of keeping you into the movie the whole time. At a run time of almost two hours and fifty minutes, with no real action taking place, one would worry that a film like this would tend to drag on. Yet it never felt that way. I was invested from beginning to end, and there was never a dull moment.

The acting, across the board, was stellar. First off I’ll get our lead, Affleck, out of the way. It is high time that this man got his due as an actor. He’s proven throughout the years that he can write and direct, yet most people still harp on his ability to act for some reason. This film proves that this man has the chops once and for all. He not only makes a well rounded character that we have a real feeling and sympathy for, but also one that we are not sure we can trust. Those are two very conflicting emotions to feel as a viewer. Then, on top of it, he portrays the flashback version of Nick which is completely different than the “real” Nick. And when the finale comes we’re equally as torn with him. We want Amy to get her comeuppance, and feel his anger and frustration (to put it mildly) that it cannot be dished out. Nick is stuck between a rock and a really freaking solid hard place. And Affleck plays it perfectly.

Along with Affleck is the performance by Rosamund Pike as Amy. This woman is legitimately crazy, at least that is how it felt. I was scared of what would happen. She made me angry, she made me concerned, and she terrified me all at the same time. And most of the time there was nothing going on on screen except for her just thinking and plotting. But when things actually did happen it just reassured us of how messed up she actually is. This woman was an even more sadistic and screwed up version of Tate from American Horror Story, if that is even possible. She made my skin crawl. It was awesome. Pike was so in to the role, and so connected it was scary. There was a real craftsmanship to the work being done here by this actress.

The supporting cast as well was great. Neil Patrick Harris was genuinely creepy in this movie. Originally I was skeptical about how it would pan out with him being kind of a stalker-ish guy because… well, it’s Neil Patrick Harris. He’s so lovable. But damn he get’s creepy and uncomfortable to watch real fast. Neil owns it, and does a great job.

Probably my favorite supporting role though goes to Kim Dickens as Detective Phonda Boney. Not since Agent Starling in Silence of the Lambs have I seen (that I can recall) such an empowered female force surrounded by. Dickens plays the detective so precisely and confidently that for the first quarter or more of the film we are sure that Nick is the bad guy, and we should be siding with her and her want to catch him. Then, without really having to be told any of the details, she starts to figure out by herself that things don’t quite add up (this is, however, after she arrests Nick.) In a room of mainly men who are sympathizing with Amy, Detective Boney is the only one thinking clearly and willing to grill Amy on the details.

The ending of the film leaves you frustrated, but in a good way. That is good storytelling, when a cliffhanger becomes more than just a cliffhanger. It is a part of the story. From what I can tell the ending is the one thing that people are constantly torn about (with both the novel and the film.) It provides us with such an unsolvable conundrum that it makes our head spin. And that is perfect storytelling, and it’s the kind of story telling that makes me want to be a writer as well as a filmmaker. To create the kind of story that embeds itself into people’s minds and they are forced to think about it over and over again- that is real skill; it’s what it’s all about.

In the end Gone Girl provides for a genuinely enticing, disturbing, and emotionally driven piece of film. If you haven’t seen it you are doing yourself a great disservice. Go and see it. David Fincher is arguably one of the best directors creating films, and this movie is testament to that. He takes a complicated story of human emotion, and turns it into not just film- but art. It is films like this that remind me just why I love this medium so much. Films are supposed to make us look inside ourselves; they are supposed to move us, and films like Gone Girl  make us ask the tough questions even after the credits roll… What are we thinking? What are we feeling? … What would we do?

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Comments
  1. […] master storytelling. Like Nightcrawler, it is bound to get under your skin many times throughout. No other film of 2014 impacted me the way that Gone Girl did. Well acted all around, and well crafted this film is sure to leave you guessing all the way through […]

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