Articles, Film Reviews

Gone Girl (2014)

Remember that awkward moment when you smiled or laughed during a time in which it was very inappropriate to do so but you couldn’t help yourself? Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) knows the feeling fairly well. Though his inappropriate situation is perhaps more inappropriate than most because, in his case, he is caught smiling at the press conference dedicated to the disappearance of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike).

Gone Girl is a dark and twisted psychological study of a long-term relationship. On the day of Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing from their small town Missouri home. What unfolds from there is a police investigation that overwhelmingly points to Nick as the prime suspect. But something feels off, especially as flashbacks display the meet-cute early days of the couple’s relationship. However, even these begin to support the suspicion of Nick, as resentment in the marriage is gradually uncovered.

Directed by David Fincher, the film was adapted for the big screen by Gillian Flynn from her novel of the same name. Having read the novel earlier this year, I found the movie to be one of the best adaptations I have ever seen. With a somewhat uncanny story structure, the film excels at exploring the many layers and questions posed in the source material. This reminded me of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (2012), which also proved that a complicated novel can be successfully translated to film if in the right hands.

The mystery of Gone Girl gives M. Night Shyamalan a run for his money in terms of twists, none of which I shall reveal here. But these are twists that have purpose to the themes that the film examines. For instance, at one turn in the story, our sympathy for Amy is increased after it is revealed she was pressured to conform to Nick’s expectations and act as a “cool girl.” But there are also sympathetic moments for Nick’s sake as well.

For this reason, the film feels like a back and forth game of who is the better person. Are you team Nick or are you team Amy? While I sided with each character at one point or another, I never truly committed to either member of the married couple, which is why the supporting characters are crucially important.

For a good majority of Gone Girl, the Affleck and Pike characters seem like they are in a haze of monotony. I was waiting for them to get Claritin clear, but that was wishful thinking. Luckily, as per usual, Fincher conjures up an excellent cast that plays off of the often unnerving darkness of the two leads. I was particularly enamored by the performances of Tyler Perry and Carrie Coon in the supporting roles of defense attorney Tanner Bolt and Margo Dunne, respectfully. It is because of such performances that the film is elevated above Flynn’s novel.

Likewise, the technicality of the film is so proficient that it is hard to look away when even the more disturbing scenes are taking place (and boy are there some doozies). This credit goes out to Jeff Cronenweth’s smooth and pristine cinematography and editor Kirk Baxter’s strong sense of handling a multi-layered story that stretches to nearly two and a half hours. Additionally, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide another musical score that never exaggerates emotion but instead runs parallel with the grim and meditative visuals.

Gone Girl isn’t the best film in Fincher’s filmography (that title is debatable). The problem with the film lies in its two unlikeable main characters, which are so brilliantly portrayed by Affleck and Pike. But the fact that Gone Girl remains outrageously engrossing regardless of how you view Nick and Amy is proof to how well crafted the film really is.

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