I am among the millions who have read Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl. Like the majority of those millions, I loved the book. The story was intriguing and the characters interesting, but the highlight of the book was Flynn’s way of telling the story from a first person stance and still managing to dupe the audience. It was a great read, one filled with twists and turns and a great sense of pace and storytelling. Then comes David Fincher. Without a doubt of the finest filmmakers working today, Fincher has always been one of my top favorites. Having made substantial films like Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Social Network, as well as really good gems like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Panic Room, and The Game, Fincher has established himself as one of the best and most noteworthy talents out there. Having loved the book and being a fan of Fincher, I was really looking forward to seeing the two collide. In fact, this was my second most anticipated movie of 2014 right behind Interstellar. And with great pleasure I say that this is a very good adaptation and a wonderful mystery.
In a career that fell off a cliff for a long while, Ben Affleck has finally found his groove. After firmly rooting himself in the ground as a director with Gone Baby Gone, Affleck has improved as an actor as well and Gone Girl is a testament to that. He plays Nick Dunne, husband to Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike). After the mysterious disappearance of Amy, the surrounding circumstances seem to lead the audience and the characters to the conclusion that Nick is guilty. Guilty of what is the question. There is no evidence. She’s simply gone. But it would be a crime for me to say anything else about the plot for those who haven’t read the book and if you have then there is really no reason for me to do that. You already know, so let’s get to it.
Nick Dunne is a mysterious character from the start and Affleck plays him brilliantly. David Fincher and company cast this role perfectly as Affleck’s own career resembles Nick’s situation in a number of ways. This is one of his best performances and this is proof that he can give a good performance even when someone else is behind the camera. Equally brilliant, if not more so, is Rosamund Pike. Yes, the same Rosamund Pike who has been known for various smaller roles and insignificance. Most critics are saying that this is a breakthrough performance for her, and you know what? I’m going to have to agree. She gives an excellent performance and an Oscar nomination would be completely deserved. At the moment, I can’t think of a single female performance this year better than Pike’s. She embodies Amy wonderfully and perfectly nails her complex and consistently changing character traits. Also brilliant is Neil Patrick Harris, eradicating the one we’ve come to know from How I Met Your Mother and putting on a seriously intense and sometimes frightening mask. The biggest surprise of the movie is Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt. I have made it known in the past that I do not like Tyler Perry at all but guess what… he’s great here. No kidding. The wig is off and the dress is gone and now Perry has found himself with a great director and a great screenplay. He can act. Give me more of that.
Perhaps the main reason the actors did such great jobs is David Fincher. He knows how to make a movie and he knows how to direct his actors and this movie is no exception. Every scene is gorgeously filmed and lighted by cinematographer Jeff Cronenworth (Fight Club, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). If you’re a film junkie like me, you’re going into this movie knowing what a Fincher movie looks like. How well it’s filmed and how gorgeous it looks. And it doesn’t disappoint. Fincher’s stylish fingerprints drench every scene and it’s beautiful to behold. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the score for this film and, having also scored The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I knew what to expect and they delivered. It’s nice that Fincher seems to have his own little team with these two composers and Cronenworth to film. They can’t seem to disappoint.
Gone Girl delivers. Affleck is the best he’s been in a while and Rosamund Pike might just take that Oscar statue. It’s filled with brilliant performances but the story is what audiences go for. Gillian Flynn’s script does a fine job at weaving the elements together, making the complex narrative structure of the novel actually work as a film. David Fincher has a blast directing this sort-of-satire of news coverage and examination of how Americans flock over people who are put in these situations. It’s darkly comical at times but it doesn’t seem to slip up as many times as it could. The first act isn’t like your typical Fincher movie, but as the movie progresses the director of the great R-rated features comes out. At nearly two and a half hours long, it never drags, which is what he masters. As a fan of the novel and a fan of Fincher, I don’t think I could be happier. This is a good looking, sharply directed, quickly paced, wonderfully acted, and flat out enthralling mystery that I loved from start to finish.
Gone Girl (2014) 145 mins Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon Written by Gillian Flynn Directed by David Fincher