Monday, November 3, 2014

"Gone Girl" (2014)

Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Carrie Coon
Written by Gillian Flynn
Directed by David Fincher
Rated R: Violence, strong language, nudity, sex
Running Time: 149 Minutes

On the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) disappears. Her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), comes home to find their living room in disarray and calls the police. Detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and James Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) arrive and are immediately suspicious of Nick.

In the following days, as the evidence mounts against Nick, the public begins to turn against him. Even his loyal twin sister, Margot (Carrie Coon), always at his side, begins to wonder if he's not being entirely honest. Slowly, Nick's life begins to unravel. His year-long affair with one of his students is exposed, and the police come ever closer to pressing charges against him even without having found Amy's body.

What is Nick lying about? Where is Amy? And what was she so afraid of?

Or was she? Gillian Flynn's dark, totally fucked up novel "Gone Girl" comes to the screen, adapted by Flynn herself and filmmaker David Fincher. And it's just as good as you want it to be.

Fincher once again crafts a meticulous filmic experience. Gorgeously shot and crisply edited, "Gone Girl" is fantastic just to watch. Thankfully, the performances and the script are also up to snuff, though with some flaws.

Ben Affleck anchors the film, simply because so much of it revolves around him. Thankfully, his performance is worthwhile. Nick isn't quite sure how to act around people, especially in such a claustrophobic situation, so the media begins to eat him alive and his frustration mounts. His problem is that he hates his wife, and he's not sure how to reconcile that in the face of her disappearance and probable murder. Affleck plays this pretty well, often getting the confusion and resentment perfectly. He wavers in a few places and never really nails it, but it's a good, solid performance from an actor a lot of people like to hate on.

Rosamund Pike, on the other hand, deserves serious kudos for her portrayal of Amy. Here's a woman so vile and vicious and lovely and disgusting that you're constantly surprised and shocked at the things she does and says. Pike absolutely nails the early portions of the film detailing the slow destruction of Nick and Amy's marriage, her supposed growing fear that Nick may eventually hurt or even kill her, and the money troubles and pregnancy problems. It's one of the must purely evil characters I've seen in a good long while, and the way it unravels so naturally is fascinating and horrifying to behold.

Other members of the cast perform admirably, but Pike is the one who totally steals the show. Tyler Perry does well as Nick's hot-shot New York lawyer Tanner Bolt, and Kim Dickens is great as Detective Boney. I was excited to see Neil Patrick Harris joining as Amy's creepy ex Desi Collings, but honestly his performance is just too obvious and unsubtle. He's too creepy, all the time, nearly to the point of being cartoonish.

The film moves along at a good clip and never really lets up. It feels much shorter than it's two and a half hour runtime. I don't often like to get into comparisons with the book, but the script, out of necessity, streamlines and omits certain things that made the novel a richer experience for its characters. That said, if you haven't read it, there's nothing here you'll miss (since you won't know). Flynn's script makes Nick more sympathetic, certainly, but that may be something the filmic audience requires.

In any case, the film still has bite. It makes pointed jabs at the media frenzy that follows the disappearance of Amy, who is something of a celebrity. It makes sure you know that many of the people in this film are horrible, horrible people, even the ones you might feel sympathy for.

See Also
"The Social Network" (2010)
"Zodiac" (2007)
"Fight Club" (1999)
"Alien 3" (1992/2003)

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