Movie Review: Gone Girl

The marathon action blockbuster season may have taken a lengthy break (for now) but my goodness, the incredible movies just keep coming in 2014.

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Starring:
Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Director:
David Fincher (Fight Club, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Rating: MA15+
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When you go to a David Fincher movie, there are a number of things you can usually expect to find. Plenty of stylish shots, for one. A tightly wound script, for another. Perhaps also a grim tone with occasional moments of comic relief to balance things out. Then there are the plotlines, twisting and turning and keeping you guessing long into the film’s run time. Well, suffice to say that the man’s latest, Gone Girl, is no aberration. It delivers everything audiences have come to expect from the director of Fight Club and Seven, ESPECIALLY that last thing. The plot of Gone Girl is so twisty that talking about anything outside the film’s official synopsis is probably going to be a spoiler. If you haven’t read its source material, the bestselling Gillian Flynn novel of the same name, you’d best go into the cinema knowing as little as possible. I won’t be talking about anything particularly plot-sensitive in this review, but you have been warned nonetheless.

The marketed set-up of Gone Girl is one already rife with mystery. It follows a married man, Nick Dunne (played by Ben Affleck), who leaves his rather nice home for a morning beach session and returns to discover that his wife is missing. There are signs of a struggle and the cops are brought in to investigate. Because Nick’s wife, Amy, happens to be the daughter of a pair of successful children’s book authors who use her as the inspiration for their main character, “Amazing Amy”, the mainstream media gets very interested in the case very fast, particularly when Nick doesn’t seem to be reacting the way the public expects him to…

Suffice to say the plot thickens from there, as the story begins to splinter off into flashbacks, flash-forwards and thinly veiled comments on the state of modern society. Flynn herself penned the screenplay, so a lot of her authorial presence and worldview makes the transition to the big screen intact. As does her sense of humour, perhaps surprisingly. Even for a Fincher flick, there are an awful lot of jokey one-liners and amusing situations scattered throughout what is otherwise a pretty sombre story here. And given Gone Girl‘s significant length (we’re talking two and a half hours), that’s a really good thing.

Even apart from these moments, however, Fincher‘s version of Gone Girl is astoundingly adept at both maintaining tension and subverting audience expectations. Again, I can’t talk too much about plot specifics for fear of spoilers, but you won’t be seeing a lot of repetition or scene padding during the movie, and whenever you think you’ve worked something out you are usually going to turn out wrong. For the third successive time, Fincher has allied himself with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and his partner in industrial audio creepiness Atticus Ross, and their score is every bit as on-point as it was in both The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Plot, visual flair and sound design come together frequently to keep the viewer engaged. To me at least, Gone Girl does not feel like a long film, and that’s impressive.

And yet the most admirable thing about the movie, and what really makes it work after all is said and done, is the performances turned in by its main cast. Affleck is actually incredibly good in the crucial role of Nick, as the way he plays the character aligns perfectly with what the narrative dictates we must know about him at any given point in time. This helps to cover the occasional moments when the story’s logic threads stretch a little too far to be easily believed. He is helped by Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister, in a refreshingly against-the-grain interpretation of a sibling role (seriously, what is Hollywood’s problem with putting a brother and a sister onscreen together without them hating one another?) and, of all people, Tyler Perry as a boastful lawyer. But this movie truly belongs to Rosamund Pike, the actress of the many thankless supporting roles who finally gets a chance to put her own stamp on a film as Amy. And my goodness, she does. Like, really, really does. Oh, and NPH is in the movie as well, so there’s that.

If you’re the type to have enjoyed David Fincher‘s usual dark brand of film work, you should absolutely see Gone Girl, because despite the preposterously good year that 2014 has already been for movies, this one is now right up near the top of my personal list. December is going to be very interesting indeed.

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THE VERDICT

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Good:
 Pike and Affleck are incredible, constantly flips expectations, maintains tension over time, surprisingly joke-laden, stylish as hell
Bad:
Some weak plot logic
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5 VsP H E N O M E N A L

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