Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gone Girl: Movie Review


Implores you to not take appearances at face value as the characters cut a dark tale of marriage.
The titular gone girl is Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and he’s the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance. Not just because it’s always the husband, but also because their marriage is failing, she’s kept a diary detailing all the horrible things he’s done and all clues lead back to him. The great thing about Gone Girl the thriller is that these clues aren’t meant to deceive but to lead the audience. It’s simply a story of what happened, but with twists aplenty. 2014

Directed by: David Fincher

Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn
Based on novel by Gillian Flynn

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) have a memorable date.
Photo: Merrick Morton - TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox and
Regency Enterprises. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.
The film opens with Ben Affleck in sympathetic mode as he comes home to his house that is clearly a crime scene and a missing wife. He’s also trying to accept the harsh realities of married life. Their 5-year anniversary is upon them and he no longer greets Amy’s anniversary games with elation but now he sees it as a chore. A wife he’s no longer in love with but pretends he still is. The days pile on and Nick’s former compassion has turned questionable. As much as we want to believe his innocence, there is something not quite right with his demeanor. A neighbor in the “Find Amazing Amy” search remarks that he’s hot, her friend counters that he’s creepy. He is, indeed, both.

There is of course a twist. I liked that the first twist comes a ways into the movie; it allows the audience to arrive at the same conclusion just as the film reveals its original intentions. The later twists keep the film moving even though they veer into ridiculously over-the-top territory. Fitting the definition of a slow-burning thriller, most scenes and acts of the movie play out slowly, however they never drag. The long run-time just adds to the atmosphere and is not a hindrance to this marvelously complex and interesting thriller. I liked director David Fincher’s chosen atmosphere and cinematography much better than the oft-compared Prisoners (2013). The atmosphere is not overly gloomy or dark. Each scene is set-up as if it’s telling a simple, straight story. Not that there is such a thing.

Adapted from her own book, writer Gillian Flynn seems to have taken a cue from previous Fincher collaborator, Aaron Sorkin. In Sorkin’s series The Newsroom, his protagonists continually point out that Nancy Grace and similar broadcasters are not news journalists because they don’t report facts, they pick and choose elements of the case at hand and present them in such a manner that the viewer will want to tune in for more. In Gone Girl, Missi Pyle plays a Nancy Grace look-alike, sound-alike and act-alike who uses Amy’s disappearance to tell a story that will hook the audience. Interestingly, the film is not just about how the media distorts crimes, victims and suspects, but also how victims, suspects, lawyers and other loved ones use the media to distort their own lives and crimes.

Detectives Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) and Boney (Kim Dickens) search for
clues as they investigate a woman’s disappearance. Photo: Merrick Morton
- TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises.
All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.
We first meet Rosamund Pike as Amy in flashbacks. One of the most interesting details of her life includes how her parents used her childhood and turned it into a best-selling series of children books called “Amazing Amy.” Amy is tortured about how she’s supposed to appear and how everybody wants her to be. She’s known as the nagging shrew or the controlling bitch, and sometimes she wears that label proudly. In a much smaller but still impressive turn, Kim Dickens shines as Detective Rhonda Boney, another controlling bitch that has more compassion than she lets on and doesn’t take appearances at face value.

Gone Girl is a film about appearances, the story those appearances tell, and then the distortion of that story. And it’s about marriage and how it fits in with the above. Seeing as it’s a very dark film, it serves as a warning to never get married. Or at least to never marry Amy Dunne.
Best of 2014

Similar Titles:

Side Effects (2013) - Morally ambiguous characters in a deceptive, complex thriller plot.

Prisoners (2013) - Two suspenseful approaches to one dark crime.

The One I Love (2014) - One part reality, one part mystery, one part love.