REVIEW: Gone Girl

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It’s pretty hard to say much about Gone Girl without spoiling things. So, go see it? It’s a great movie?  Ok, I’ll keep things clean.

Adapted from Gillian Flynn‘s blockbuster novel, the film is in the ever-capable hands of director David Fincher. He’s created such fantastic thrillers as Seven, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, The Social Network, and previously successfully brought the novel Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to the big screen.  So he’s the perfect guy to make Gone Girl fans happy.  It’s a twisty, dark, mischievous story that Alfred Hitchcock would have loved to get his hands on.

We meet Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) as he heads out to grab the morning paper and head to his bar that he owns with his twin sister (Carrie Coon).  He’s called home by a neighbour because his indoor cat is in the front yard, and Nick finds that his front door is open, a living room glass table is smashed, and his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is gone.  Police move quickly to classify Amy as a missing person, but they are immediately suspicious of Nick. His answers to their mundane questions about his wife are aloof and general.  He increasingly becomes a suspect in her disappearance and seeming death, even though no body has been discovered yet.

pikeThe one big fault I found in Gone Girl is that the first act doesn’t present much mystery or intrigue.  While all the characters around Nick suspect him, the audience never does.  That’s not a spoiler.  We know Nick wasn’t involved because in the opening scenes when he returns home alone, he looks confused and shocked when his wife isn’t there.  If the film had kept Nick’s actions a little more unclear around the time of his wife’s disappearance, I would have been more engaged in the story because I would have been trying to figure out if Nick did it.  The trailer did a better job at making Nick a suspect.

Then there’s a massive twist to start off act 2, and trust me, you’ll be completely hooked. It goes in a direction I definitely wasn’t expecting, and from that point on, I really didn’t know what was going to happen next.  And that’s pretty much where my detailed review has to stop.  I can talk about the fantastic cast full of unexpected performances.  It’s pretty cool to see the lovable Neil Patrick Harris pull off such a deadpan creepy and mysterious role as Desi Collings.  Tyler Perry ditches Madea for a charismatic performance as lawyer Tanner Bolt, and funny girl Casey Wilson plays the aggressive neighbour Noelle Hawthorne.

Ben Affleck is often a serviceable leading man, but never makes much of an impression (like in Best Picture winner Argo).  Well, he’s a strong presence here, delivering his best performance since 2006’s Hollywoodland. Ben commands the screen as he guides the audience through the twisty story by managing to keep an “everyman” aspect to this character.  You can’t help but have an inappropriate smile at a few points throughout the film as Nick’s struggling with the media parallels Ben’s real tabloid life with former flame Jennifer Lopez and now-wife Jennifer Garner.

Rosamund Pike had a tall order taking on the her role of Amy, who is mostly seen in flashbacks, and she knocks it out of the park.  Producer Reese Witherspoon originally wanted to play the role, but Fincher smartly convinced her that a lesser-known actress should take on the part.  He was right, and Pike should be a star after this.  Amy is a complex character to say the least.  Pike has to play almost every emotion possible throughout the movie, she nails every one.

In a time when there’s so much focus on the lack of interesting female roles on the big screen, it’s refreshing to see a film that features several complex roles for women.  Kim Dickens plays the lead detective investigating Amy’s disappearance, and while she follows the clues, she’s also intelligent enough to question them.  Carrie Coon, as Ben’s twin sister, gets a lot of laughs as the voice of reason and the only one who Nick can truly rely on.  Both these roles could have easily been played by men, so it’s nice to see the gender reverse.

Gone Girl is a challenging thriller that could have easily been a mess, but Fincher directs it with such fluidity that it’s like a conductor guiding a symphony.  You’ll kinda creep yourself out for liking it, but trust me, you will.

Grade:  A-

 


2 Comments

  1. teri October 3, 2014 1:57 pm  Reply

    Happy to see you enjoyed it, without being a gaga fanboy. Same, and my criticisms are similar.

    • Graeme O'Neil October 4, 2014 1:51 am  Reply

      Good to hear! Yes, it’s a fantastic film, but yeah that first act could have been stronger.

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