Posted by: ckckred | October 19, 2014

Gone Girl

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David Fincher is perhaps the most unique director working today in modern day cinema, being one of the few filmmakers to gain the trust of studio heads, critics, and audiences. But Fincher’s strongest movie isn’t the massively popular Fight Club or the Facebook-expose The Social Network, but Zodiac, a slow-burning mystery that underperformed at the box office and didn’t receive the press either two of those picture did. Zodiac does not aim at populist acceptance; it’s not a blood and guts picture like any of the other number of films made about the Zodiac killer, but a comprehensive investigation that becomes so real and enthralling it feels like you’re in the picture. At over two and a half hours, it was too long for most viewers to embrace, but it’s David Fincher at his tightest and most detailed, evidence of the director’s perfectionist style.

Fincher’s newest picture, Gone Girl, shares much in common with Zodiac, not just because it has a similar story but the same style, featuring a high-profile cast, extremely sharp digital cinematography, and an icy-cold mood (the latter can be attributed to Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’ industrial score). Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, Gone Girl centers on Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), who on his fifth wedding anniversary discovers his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing. After Nick alerts the police, we soon discover that Nick and Amy’s marriage has recently grown sour, and through flashbacks discover the deteriorating relationship between the two and how this pertains to Amy’s sudden disappearance.

Just around 45 minutes through Gone Girl, Flynn’s screenplay makes a sudden reveal that changes the mood and atmosphere rest of the picture. Despite the heavy publicity of the twist, I fortunately managed to enter the theater without being warned before. While I do not wish to spoil the plot to anyone who hasn’t seen the picture yet, I will say that two significant characters appear in the second half, a famous defense attorney (Tyler Perry) and one of Amy’s previous ex-boyfriends (Neil Patrick Harris). Their sudden entrance into the picture makes the film transition to a shocking, Se7en-like conclusion (though far less violent).

While Gone Girl is an astute analysis about the psyche of the human mind, it’s also a vicious satire of the media. With the growth of social media and cable news, controversial trials are blasted into the eyes and ears of today’s society, from O. J. Simpson’s hearing back in the mid-90s to Casey Anthony’s one a few years ago, and how these figures become public celebrities of sorts. Oliver Stone examined this concept in Natural Born Killers, but unlike that movie, Gone Girl doesn’t become overly mean-spirited or nasty. Fincher, a subtler director than Stone, isn’t bombastic with his metaphor, instead emphasizing the parallels between the two.

Indeed, Fincher’s bleak tone is evident throughout as the picture and rivals the horror and intensity of that of Michael Haneke. His cast certainly fits the parts presented to them. Affleck represents the average American man, Pike a loving, doting spouse, and Carrie Coon (who plays Nick’s sister) a loyal sibling. Even Tyler Perry, in the most fish-out-of-water role since Adam Sandler’s turn in Punch-Drunk Love, is surprisingly good, offering a few bits of comic relief as well as the grave reality. The only outlier to the cast is Neil Patrick Harris, a talented actor, but one who doesn’t fit quite into place with his character.

Of all things considered, Gone Girl is a great picture, perhaps Fincher’s best since Zodiac. With its haunting conclusion and twisting plot, it poses to prove to grow even better after a second viewing, something I hope to discover soon.

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Responses

  1. Saw it yesterday and can’t do anything but agree with you, such a great film and I love the way it ended. It was unexpected and leaves a strong feeling with the audience.

    • The ending definitely caught me off guard. I was actually talking to someone earlier today about how I expected the movie to further expand on that concept.

  2. Not his very best material but his best since The Social Network. That last act is barking isn’t it?

    • I enjoyed this more than The Social Network actually, though I’d say they’re about the same in quality. The conclusion sure is haunting, I did not see that coming.

  3. Good review. Not Fincher’s best, but it doesn’t matter because it’s just so much fun to watch and be apart of.

    • Thanks! It was a pretty thrilling watch and one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen this year.

  4. Nice review. Liked this one quite a bit myself. Glad you came away with feeling more or less the same. 🙂

    • Thanks! I did very much enjoyed this picture. Certainly one of the best I’ve seen this year.

  5. I’m intrigued that you say it grows more after second viewing, because i definitely feel like I need to see this movie again to fully grasp it entirely! Great review!

    • I haven’t watched this a second time, but I definitely can this growing on me during an additional viewing.

  6. Agreed, this is an astute and eerie direction from Fincher, I like this a heck of a lot more than Zodiac. I like the way you described it… icy-cold mood, that’s the term I’m looking for to describe his films!

    • I think Zodiac was more consistent and had more structure than Gone Girl, but it’s still a solid picture.

  7. Great review, man. Really looking forward to this one. I wasn’t overly keen on The social Network or Benjamin Button but I’m really hoping Fincher gets back to his beat and it sounds like he’s done that.

    • Thanks, I think you’ll enjoy this. I thought The Social Network was pretty strong (though I prefer Fincher’s other work), but Benjamin Button was overrated Oscar-bait. Gone Girl’s a good companion piece to Zodiac.

  8. Great review, man. Agree with you 100% here. I loved the hell out of this film, and it was a pretty spot-on adaptation of the book. Right now it’s my favorite of the year, and quite possibly my favorite from Fincher period.

    • Thanks! I haven’t read the book (will have to get on that), but enjoyed the movie much as well. I wouldn’t say this would be my favorite Fincher film (that’d be Zodiac), but I think I’d put it in his top three or four movies (with the other contenders being Se7en and Fight Club).


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