New On The Shelf – Gone Girl
Gone Girl is a 2014 psychological crime thriller directed by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. The films screenplay is written by Gillian Flynn, adapted from her novel of the same name. The movie revolves around a missing persons case that starts when Nick Dunne (Affleck) finds that his wife Amy (Pike) has gone missing from his house in what appears to be a violent kidnapping or possible murder. The film alternates between following Nick’s cooperation with the police as they conduct their investigation, and flashback sequences told through Amy’s diary about the couple’s somewhat troubled history.
Gone Girl is an excellent suspenseful human drama, perhaps not at its best, but certainly very close. Even though it clocks in at just around two and a half hours, I think most people will find it incredibly engaging. The plot is full of twists and turns and keeps the audience second-guessing at every turn. We are lead to believe quite a few things and it is difficult to tell what is really going on, but it is certainly a captivating story about the dark side of love and marriage. This does make it arguably the worst movie to watch on a first date. Or any date. Unless you are a mature adult in a healthy relationship where a movie isn’t going to make you think your spouse may be planning to kill you.
Gillian Flynn’s story and her script are definitely highlights of the film, but this is a case where a really good story has the right director to tell it. David Fincher is extremely talented and this movie is a perfect example of that. The color palette, the editing, and the soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are all used to help create tension. Fincher is also unafraid to push the envelope with the crazy stuff we see in this movie, allowing scenes to truly rattle us. it’s another worthy edition in a distinguished filmography hat includes Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), and The Social Network (2010). And I daresay that even with the same story and script, this movie probably wouldn’t have been as good in the hands of most other directors. They are a perfect match for each other.
With a great story and a great creative team, the only thing that could have been this movie’s downfall is the acting. Fortunately, that may be the best thing in the movie. Ben Affleck gives what may be a career best as an actor. He’s perfectly cast as an “every man” who is clumsily making mistakes, and really sells the anger that the situation makes him feel. I think my favorite scenes with Nick are whenever he addresses the media; seeing him start as a timid, awkward victim to the more confident speaker he becomes is a real treat and proof that Ben is a better actor than a lot of people give him credit for.
Rosamund Pike gives an extremely charismatic performance as Amy Elliot-Dunne. She impressively excels in the role of a narrator, which is not something that’s easy to do. She lures the viewer in to make us connect with her and hope that she is safe, and… well, I won’t spoil anything. Those who have seen the movie know just how good she is. Since I don’t want to get to into detail about Pike’s performance, I also want to recognize the work of of Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Neil Patrick Harris and especially Tyler Perry. This is genuinely the only time where I found myself that there was more of Tyler Perry on my screen; his character is fantastic and provides some much needed comedic relief in a movie that gets very dark and unpleasant.
Gone Girl was one of favorite movies of 2014, hitting pretty much every note that I want in a pure drama film. Everything in this movie is well done, and I especially respect that Gillian Flynn was allowed the chance to adapt her book into a screenplay. Movies have been adapted from books for well over a century now, but it isn’t all that often that an author gets to be so in charge of the process. Flynn has proved that she has a lot of talent as a screenwriter and I hope that she continues to contribute in the future. Affleck gives one of his career best performances, Rosamund Pike genuinely breaks through as a star to watch out for, and David Fincher continues to prove how good of a director he is. If you haven’t gotten around to giving this movie a watch, I definitely recommend checking it out.