Friday, 3 October 2014

Film Review: Gone Girl



Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
Runtime: 149 minutes

Sex, lies and videotape - David Fincher's Gone Girl is a complex thriller about marriage, murder and everything in-between. Oh, and it's easily one of the best films this year.

Set in the dilapidated Midwestern town of Carthage, Missouri, Gone Girl is the much-anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn's New York Times bestseller. With Flynn also on screenplay duties and acclaimed director David Fincher (Seven, The Social Network) at the helm, this haunting thriller sees Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) at the centre of a murder investigation after his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), disappears from their home on the day of their anniversary.

Drenched in camera flash and hounded by reporters at his every turn, Nick soon finds himself, and his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon), at the centre of a media shitstorm. After the initial search for Amy yields nothing, attention turns to Nick - what has happened to 'Amazing Amy'? Does Nick know more than he is letting on, or does ex-boyfriend Desy (Neil Patrick Harris) hold the secret to her disappearance?

Unravelling complex themes of marriage, misogyny, murder and the media, Gone Girl is a really excellent film that, at its core, explores our long-held obsession with sex(es) and scandal. It's also a battleground for numerous readings on gender politics, and like the source text, will leave audiences flitting between two very troubled and unreliable narrators.

It's these interlocking elements that makes Gone Girl 2014's best film yet. It's detailed, but not convoluted. It has something to say, but doesn't force it down your throat. It's the kind of film you need to see with friends, just so you can talk it over afterwards and pick apart the characters and what you took from it.

The central duo, Nick and Amy, are acted perfectly by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Affleck, off the back of impressive roles in his own directorial work (The Town, Argo), gives the best performance of his career by far. Slimy and struggling to keep a hold on his life, Nick may be the most likeable and sympathetic asshole in cinema this decade. Affleck manages to nail this duality well.

However, it's Rosamund Pike who makes the movie her own; much like Andrew Garfield in The Social Network or Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Pike confidently grasps Fincher's morbid fascination with raw and tormented characters, and runs with it. Cold, yet loving, potent yet distant, Pike hammers home the complexity and emotional nuance of Amy whenever she strides into shot. This makes it hard to pick out singular scenes that stand-out, but those drawn from Amy's diary are particularly engaging.

Gone Girl sits at a rather long 149 minutes, but the constant stream of rug pulls means we barely feel the films length. Much like the book, there is a very distinct three act structure to the film - whilst each are gripping in they're own way, I found that the films middle third, where cliffhanger after cliffhanger are thrown at the audience, was the strongest. In fact, I felt the initial set-up was a bit rushed.

Tyler Perry plays Tanner Bolt, a big city lawyer Nick drafts in to craft his media image. Perry was very nearly the best thing about the cast, and he's certainly the funniest (in a very dry, satirical way). On top of that, Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit provide some great back-and-forth banter as the police duo assigned to finding Amy.

Emily Ratajkowski (a.k.a the only semi-good thing to come out of 'Blurred Lines') plays Andie Hardy, a character harbouring one of Nick's greatest secrets - only, she's quickly relegated to background scenery. I understand that this would've been done to cut runtime, but her presence (and the threat it poses) is never felt as much here as it was in the book. Her's is the only character that comes across as half-arsed. That aside, the supporting cast are pitch perfect; even the smallest of characters (such as Missi Pyle as Fox News-style anchor Ellen Abbott) are fantastic.

Fincher's directorial fingerprints are strewn all over Gone Girl, and as you'd expect, the film looks gorgeous. Each shot feels meticulously thought-out and executed. The crumbling buildings and eerie riverside setting of the movie are wonderfully framed, and when Fincher's direction is once again backed-up by the musical composition of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the effect is hair-raisingly chilling.

The Verdict: 9.5/10


Gone Girl is a gripping, unpredictable and darkly humorous thriller matched perfectly to Fincher's brooding direction and aesthetic. Affleck and Pike give career-best performances, whilst Harris, Coon and Perry flesh out a near perfect role call. The questions may be more intriguing than the answers, but Gone Girl can be considered a highpoint for all those involved. It really is the kind of film that stays with you for hours and days afterwards.

20 comments:

  1. LOVE the grade and that you singled out Ros! I love the character of Amy - she is just fascinating, in fact the entire story is filled with great characters..cannot wait to see this one.

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    1. Thanks Sati - I look forward to hearing your thoughts also! :) Pike absolutely nailed Amy's complexity, which is one of the films strongest suits :)

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  2. Great review :) I'm really looking forward to seeing this with a completely fresh mind, I haven't read the book.
    - Allie

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    1. My girlfriend was the same! She knew a few details, but I didn't tell her how it ends - which was a good decision, one scene in particular certainly took her by surprise :)

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  3. Awesome review! I can't wait to see this later today.

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    1. Thanks Brittani! :) I look forward to hearing your thoughts :)

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  4. This movie was a total blast. Even if it wasn't Fincher's best, it was still totally worth the ride I was experiencing. Good review.

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    1. Thanks Dan :) There are still a few Fincher classics I've yet to see, so I'll have to do some catching up before I can judge for definite - maybe, once I've seen them all, I can do a 'Rank the Films' on Fincher :)

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  5. Great review, giving my mum more reasons to go see it. She's big on crime and thriller stuff, so it should be a good watch! (:

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    1. Thanks Rebekah :) Be sure to check it out yourself also, it's a brilliant movie!

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  6. Nice review. I'm right on board with you here, this was pretty stellar stuff. Stays about as true to the source material as possible, and even so, all the twists were actually crazier seeing them play out than reading them. Awesome stuff on display here. :)

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    1. Thanks Chris :) I thought it matched the book really well, better than most adaptations. Fincher really suited the grimy tone of the book.

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  7. Wonderful review. Rosamund Pike was just plain brilliant throughout, and the score, alongside the directing, created the atmosphere of the movie. One of the most entertaining films I've seen.

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    1. Thanks :) Be sure to stop by and check out more of my reviews in the future!

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  8. Great review... I totally agree on Ratajkowski, as you will see in my review. Great film!

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    1. I look forward to reading it Tanner! :) Thanks for commenting.

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  9. Good point on the character of Andi, although I will say I thought she was a little less bimbo-y in the book and I was a little annoyed by her portrayal in the film. Still, dumbing her down made her brief appearance a little more appropriate. Great review!

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    1. Thanks Annie :) I guess Fincher and Flynn had to trim fat somewhere, and Andie was a good place to start. The only minor complaint in an otherwise brilliant film.

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  10. Great review! I felt the first hour of Gone Girl was a bit fuzzy and sluggish, but Rosamund was absolutely brilliant. It's definitely one of the best movies of the year.

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    1. Thanks Katy :) I can see what you mean, but I think that's all part of the unreliable narrators and misdirection from Fincher - at least, that's what I took from it :) It definitely is - my Top 10 just got a whole lot trickier.

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