Gone Girl was the perfect project for David Fincher. I said that just this afternoon as I finished reading Gillian Flynn’s mystery novel of the same name. I’m a little late to the party on the book, I know. It’s every bit as good as everyone says, by the way. I was eager to see how Fincher would translate it. I was not disappointed.
This is Fincher doing what Fincher does best… Winding, twisting, unsettling. From shot to score each element serves the narrative in some way. From the somewhat grainy feel of the images to the Reznor/Ross scoring, everything is there purposefully to serve the story, the tone, or the theme. Everything is intentional, everything is deliberate, which is necessary in any well told mystery.
For those that don’t know the premise, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), has gone missing from their suburban Missouri home with evidence of foul play. It doesn’t take long for suspicion to turn to Nick, who has great difficulty expressing emotion due to having an overbearing and emotionally abusing father. The media creates a narrative around him, accusing him without any real evidence. In the court of public opinion, Nick Dunne murdered his wife. And then things get really interesting…
This film is as much about the Dunne’s messed up relationship as it is an indictment of the fickle and media obsessed public. About media as entertainment, the 24 hour news cycle and how it’s making justice more difficult. It brings up the question of how well do we really care to know each other as individuals in relationships, and what is our part in how another behaves. The film doesn’t hit us over the head with these things, it just brings it up and lets it go, out into the ether. And in this way the film honors the book both in tone and in story. It’s about as faithful an adaptation as I’ve ever seen (easily as good an adaptation as Fight Club, another Fincher masterpiece). Gillian Flynn, the author of the novel, adapted her own work for the screen. This is her first screen writing credit. And she nailed it.
I keep searching for some problem with this movie. The only thing I can come up with, and it’s really a small thing, is that I’m not so sure I buy Ben Affleck as Nick. Not because he didn’t do a good job. He did a fine job. But he’s just a bit too everyman. A bit too average to have wooed a sophisticated New York City girl like Amy. Just on the wrong side of the kind of charming he’s supposed to have been. And while I appreciate his stoic demeanor, the baggage from his parents didn’t feel as present as I wanted it to. But that is just me. Some may interpret his subdued performance as perfect for that kind of thing, but I’m just not so sure. On the other hand, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris, for me, were perfect. There is a scene with the two of them that utterly changes the entire film. You’ll know which one I mean when you see it.
I was reeling when I walked out the of the theater into a late summer Central Texas electrical storm. The air thick with humidity, the silent storm was as unsettling as the film I just watched and it carried me all the way home.
I give this 4.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls!
Rated R For a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language
Run Time: 149 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens
Directed By: David Fincher
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