Friday, October 3, 2014

A Reel Review: GONE GIRL

Whether it’s based on fact or fiction, a film bathing in the true-crime genre always has its work cut out for it. The first order of business is to lay out the crime, unleash some mystery and let the suspicions rise by way of the facts of the case. The second order of business, and perhaps more important, is to not lose the human side of the story. Such is the challenge of David Fincher’s GONE GIRL.
On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick (Ben Affleck) arrives home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing and possibly abducted. As the investigation unfolds, Nick becomes a prime suspect, while the truth behind their picture-perfect marriage begins to come to light.

GONE GIRL sets itself up as a very simple mystery-thriller. The disappearance of Amy which leads to evidence pointing towards Nick, coupled with the changing loyalties of a gullible mass-media and overzealous law enforcement, makes for great drama as it is never quite clear if Nick really is the one behind the whodunit. All that mystery is not enough for GONE GIRL, as the film is smartly intercut with flashbacks which tell the story of the first five years of Nick and Amy’s marriage. The flashbacks are perfectly timed and coincide nicely with the goings-on of the present investigation. As GONE GIRL unspools, there is a lot to think about.
Director David Fincher as a lot of material to work with, and he handles it brilliantly. GONE GIRL has the potential to fall into a standard police-procedural drama, but the flashbacks offer the opportunity to explore the ins and outs of married life…and Fincher capitalizes on it. What it means to married, ups and downs, and the truths and lies couples tell each other to get by are explored fully. Through this, Fincher tells a very human tale of love and loss, and when weaved around the disappearance of Amy, GONE GIRL hits on every high-mark it shoots for.

While Fincher is putting together an engaging (and often mind-blowing) narrative, he also finds time to craft a fine-looking film. Everything is photographed in a tragic yet beautiful grimness; realistic but still artful…it is difficult to pull your eyes away from the screen. The stark pictures, when combined with a haunting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross…makes for an atmosphere so think you could swim in it.
Ben Affleck turns in a great performance as the weight of the film is clearly on his shoulders. He has to play many roles here; a grieving husband, alpha-male jerk…all while going through a full range of emotions during his up and down journey. Rosamund Pike never breaks through her monotone and her face barely even moves, and it’s unclear if that’s just her or if her character is really that troubled. The biggest surprises come from Tyler Perry who comes in as Nick’s defense attorney, who is very good and shows that Perry can be a treat to watch on-screen with the right material, and from Neil Patrick Harris, who as Amy’s former lover turns in a great role as a creep. The show is nearly stolen by Carrie Coon, who as Nick’s sister has the mighty job of keeping stride with Affleck…and she does it perfectly. The supporting cast of Kim Dickens and Scoot McNairy are excellent.

After several twists and turns and punches to the gut and the brain, GONE GIRL wraps with a solid ending with a hint of ambiguity. While this may frustrate some viewers looking for more resolution, it’s clear that the film was shooting more for a life-lesson, and has no problems with putting the problems of the characters in the laps of the audience. GONE GIRL serves as many things but also finds time to be a morality tale; a perfect balance which will stun, and keep you thinking long after the fade.



1 comment:

  1. On the nose review! I said the same thing about the sister to some friends. She's great in the HBO show The Leftovers as well.


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