I’ve been looking forward to Gone Girl for quite some time now, for primarily one reason. The reason being the new film from director David Fincher. Fincher is one of my all time favorite directors, and he’s one of the reasons why I want to do what he does so well. Fincher started out the decade by delivering what I feel is still the finest film of the decade by far, The Social Network. David Fincher was robbed of an Oscar with that film, and a year later delivered the American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I feel is a very under appreciated and underrated remake. When Fincher announced this adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, I really started to get interested. I remember hearing about the book when reading a review of the book in Time, but the book came up again once 20th Century Fox began to make this film with Fincher. The movie premiered at the New York Film Festival a week ago, with audiences declaring it a possible Oscar frontrunner, with heavy emphasis on Rosamund Pike’s performance. I just saw the film earlier this morning in a not so packed theater (probably due to the fact that most of Austin is at a little music festival right now). So if I may, here’s my review of Gone Girl.
Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy. Nick, played by Ben Affleck, meets Amy, played by Rosamund Pike, begin their story as writers living in New York, and eventually get married. Personal and financial reasons force Nick and Amy to move to Missouri, in Nick’s hometown. Their the marriage begins to sour, and tense. Then one day Nick wakes up and finds that his wife is missing. The town is not quite sure where Amy is, and many believed that she was either murdered or kidnapped, and Nick is public enemy number one. As the police begin to investigate and so forth, the story begins to unravel, and the truth is not quite what you may have expected early on.
Fincher directs a script by Gone Girl’s author, Gillian Flynn. The film is also produced by Reese Witherspoon, with Witherspoon developing the film before the book was even released. Witherspoon intended on playing the role of Amy, but the role eventually went to Pike. Rosamund Pike has been around for years now, and I always thought she was a talented actress that was never getting the work she deserved, or the work that could show her true potential. And boy, has that changed today. Rosamund Pike is arguably the best part of David Fincher’s new thriller, with her work in this film as the kind of work that wins Oscars. Unfortunately, I can’t go into too many details about why Rosamund Pike is such a revelation in this film out of fear of spoiling the film, but let me say this. Gone Girl has been worth the long wait for fans of the book and fans of Fincher. Gone Girl is one of the very best films of 2014 and of the decade.
Ben Affleck gives the best acting performance of his career in the film as Nick. Affleck is a man whose spent a good chunk of his life in the spotlight and tabloids, and that’s why Fincher cast Affleck in the role of a man whose life is now in the tabloids and spotlight. Nick isn’t a perfect person, and he in fact lies and keeps certain things from the police and even his sister, played by Carrie Coon in a role that will hopefully shoot this unknown actress into stardom. One of the things that I really liked about Gone Girl is that it has a dark, twisted, and often cynical sense of humor about the media. The way the media covers the disappearance of Amy is eerily similar to the 24/7 media coverage of the Casey Anthony or even O.J. Simpson cases of years before . Missi Pyle does fine work here as a fictionalized Nancy Grace type, who hosts a show on television similar to Graces, where the nation watches her show as the demoralizes and antagonizes Nick as a cold blooded killer on her program. Amy and Nick’s pictures are printed in People Magazine, with their stories being bigger than whose dating who in Hollywood. It’s a really fascinating look into the media cycle that we live in now, and it’s one of my favorite aspects of the film.
Speaking of O.J. Simpson, Tyler Perry does some of his best work playing a hot-shot Johnnie Cochran type lawyer who Nick hires to help him with this investigation. We also see appearances in the film by Neil Patrick Harris and Scoot McNairy as former lovers of Amy, and both do great work here, even if their screen time is limited. And of course, how can I forget about the David Fincher regulars? Fincher’s longtime cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth shoots the film is such a dreary and moody light. And Kirk Baxter, who won an Oscar for editing Fincher’s last two movies with Angus Wall, takes solo duties this time around editing this film is the tight and quick style that Fincher has been known for. And of course, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score the film, after scoring Fincher’s last two movies, and the music is as moody and chillingly beautiful as it could ever be. All of these ingredients lend each other to making another masterpiece from what of the great auteurs of our time.
Gone Girl will hopefully be a box office hit, as many are expecting the film to lead the box office this weekend. It also doesn’t hurt that the film is really great. One of the things that I loved about Gone Girl is that you think you know how the movie could end up, and in the end, it’s something else entirely. The movie has so many twists and turns, and for a film that runs two and a half hours, that is a lot of twists. I think that this will be a film that will be debated and analyzed for many years to come, and its great that you can dissect such a complex and intriguing thriller that also happens to be a studio film. It’s nice to know that the studios can still make movies like Gone Girl a reality to this day.