Gone Girl Review

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After spending a little more than two months away from this site, fighting distractions such as internships, college, writing several unrelated stories, and above else, an absolutely atrocious time period in which nothing but crap movie after crap movie was released, I have returned.  Before the pitchforks are properly sharpened, I just want to mention that yes, I did see Guardians of the Galaxy when it first released and because I had zero time for writing and because I was unable to think of anything to say about that movie that hadn’t been said already, I decided to keep mum.  Long and short of it is, I’d give it a 95.

So, we kick off the fall movie season with Gone Girl, a film that had piqued my interest ever since I heard that David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) was directing it and found out that it was based off an incredibly popular book by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay (having never read the book, I figure that there’s not going to be many changes from the source material).

The story of Gone Girl is about a man (played by Ben Affleck) who comes home on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary and finds his wife missing, with a few signs of a struggle left behind.  The police are then notified and begin tallying up the evidence to see if they can account for the wife’s disappearance.  Through a series of events not previously known in the beginning to us, the audience, we begin to see a suspicious amount of circumstantial evidence begin to accumulate, making it out to seem that the husband was the one responsible for the wife being missing.  Add to that the husband’s series of faux pas made with his overall behavior, and the town gradually begins to turn against him bolstered by a fierce and savage media frenzy.

The story isn’t as straightforward as it seems because it excels in revealing twist after twist to the audience, always toying with our expectations and where we think the story will take us.  Unless you’ve read the book beforehand, you are NOT going to guess where this film ends up, hence why I’m keeping the synopsis so vague as anything I could say could reveal a major aspect of the film and the effect would be ruined.  This is a mystery thriller of the highest caliber and Fincher revels in creating the realistic and bleak environment that the movie so perfectly portrays.  Hell, even the cinematography is just the right amount of stagnant and dim that Fincher has been using since The Social Network.

Also a carryover from his previous two films, Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross return to compose the soundtrack for Gone Girl, utilizing their normal routine of hitting a synthesizer keyboard with their face and proclaiming that “music.”  I really have no idea why people like the music from these guys as I thought The Social Network’s library of ear-splitting MIDI samples and Dragon Tattoo’s bleak tones were boring at their best and enraging at their worst.  The both of them don’t even attempt to synchronize the music they create with any specific point in their films, creating a series of suites and letting the audio director paste them into the films at his leisure.  The fact that they won an Academy Award for this sort of lazy methodology is beyond inconceivable.  Gone Girl has to be the duo’s worst soundtrack yet, there’s nothing natural about it, it sounds like one of them stood their cat on a keyboard and kept him there for an hour, and it barely tries to form a connection with the images on the screen.  Personally, for this sort of ambiance, Fincher should have tapped Cliff Martinez for this sort of work, seeing as he is infinitely better at that sort of work.

Content wise, disregarding the soundtrack, one might expect for a Fincher film for there to be a fair amount of bloodshed.  Surprisingly, compared to other outings like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, there is little actual violence that involves the spillage of bodily fluids, keeping everything marginally low-key and very subtle, letting the tension build and burn slowly.

Until one scene near the end causes all that tension to rapidly peak.

Fair warning, aside from this one scene, this would have remained a comparatively tame movie with regards to its R rating.  There is one scene (not going to spoil anything) that is so ghastly and gristly, and the fact that it comes out of nowhere, you’re going to be one cold son-of-a-bitch if you don’t so much as flinch.  Your stomach will turn and that is no exaggeration.

In terms of casting, I was very pleased at how well the principle characters were portrayed.  Ben Affleck has been on a roll since The Town and Gone Girl is continuing his reputation of surprising even his most stiff attackers.  It really does show that Affleck can act and that he had just been picking crappy assignments in the early 2000s.  So far, Affleck has shown me that he is capable of doing assignments that play to his strengths as he matures as an actor.  Good for you, Ben.

But the real star of the show has to be Rosamund Pike, who has probably now fully recovered from her atrocious outing in the Bond movie Die Another Day (in which she was completely awful).  This is quite a turn-around for Pike as her career only began spiking upward in 2012 with Jack Reacher and more with The World’s End in 2013.  With Gone Girl, Pike’s role as Affleck’s wife is the best performance of the entire movie, with the entire film devoted to her relationship onscreen and showing off her cleverness to whatever scenarios cross her way.

An interesting turn by Tyler Perry as Affleck’s lawyer is a chance for the usually cringe-worthy director to show off his serious side.  In his character, Perry does a fine job emulating the cool and reserved exterior that a lawyer has while also providing much-needed bits of levity into the film.  Neil Patrick Harris is also in this film but he probably gets five minutes of screen time, tops.  His role is important, but I feel that they could have used someone other than Harris to portray the kind of character the story was going for.

So, I would have to say that Gone Girl is a fine film that leaves you fully invested in its plot, never stagnant, and always slamming you with a twist or two up its sleeve.  You really can’t go to the bathroom while watching this because you’re going to miss something very important.  Gone Girl is not a movie that can achieve the desired effect on a second play-through but it’s a film that I would recommend if you like David Fincher films and if you like a mystery thriller that is not afraid to get gritty.

If I were to nitpick, I’d have to say that the ending of the film could technically have used shave by about ten or so minutes, but I realize that the attempt was made to duplicate the book entirely and if that’s how the book went then I guess I can’t argue with leaving the last few scenes in.  The movie is tense, it’s gripping, and it leaves you pondering the sanctity of relationships afterward.  Let’s just say that I wouldn’t recommend this as a date movie.

Final Score: 83/100

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