Friday, October 3

REVIEW: Gone Girl

Directed by David Fincher
2014 Crime Drama
2 hours 29 minutes
From 20th Century Fox
and Regency Films

Ben Affleck
Rosamund Pike
Neil Patrick Harris
Tyler Perry
Carrie Coon
Kim Dickens
Patrick Fugit
David Clennon
Lisa Banes
Sela Ward

I was certainly looking forward to this one.  I love a good mystery.  I wondered whether it would deliver on its promises, its hype.  Would there be more to it than its previews?  How many oh, come ons would I find myself thinking or blurting out in that theater because some plot points are so far-fetched?  Would it be obvious that Ben Affleck is not the bad guy (it's been mighty rare), thus ruining it all for me?  I even skipped the concession stand because I didn't want anything diverting my attention.

Fear not, there will be no spoilers here.  I would never ruin your experience of this film or this type of film by telling you too much.  Let's see what I can say.

It's about a marriage.  It has a few things to say about marriage that may make some a little squeamish but you'll just have to batten down the hatches and do as well as you can because you're gonna be feeling a helluva lot more squeamish.  It's about a marriage from his point of view and from hers.  The only thing their different points of view have in common is that they're both off center.

You may already know that this is about a wife who vanishes after what looks like a scuffle in her home.  After a period of time the police come to suspect that the husband has murdered her, despite no body.  We learn about their marriage through most effective use of flashbacks.  She is a famous children's book author and he now runs a bar with his sister.  They're movers and shakers from New York and have moved to Missouri to be near his ailing mother.  They stick out like sore thumbs in the Show-Me state.

The film has a great deal to say about media frenzy that gathers about any case that has gotten national attention... our usual leap to declare guilt, hiding in one's home because the lawn is covered with press, the Nancy Grace-like reporter feasting on the carnage, the well-rehearsed televised press conferences to sway public opinion.

One of the best aspects of this very long, intricate movie is that one changes one's mind about several of the characters.  Just when you're sure you've got a plot point figured out, damn if they don't go and jack you around a bit.  I was wise to forgo the munchies. I really did need to pay attention... and a lot of it must be paid in a 2.5-hour time frame.

I did not read the popular book by Gillian Flynn upon which this film is based.  And she gets her first big screen credit for her screenplay.  I read an interesting piece on her some weeks back in which she said that she changed some aspects of the plot, including the ending.  Her reasoning was that she wanted to give her devoted readers something to look forward to when they saw the film. 

I also read something on Tyler Perry whom I can excuse for not hearing of the book (I hadn't either) but he was quoted as saying he'd never heard of director David Fincher prior to signing on.  Tyler!  Dude!  Get it together.  Not only does most of Hollywood want to work for Fincher, but Tyler Babe, you're a director yourself?!?!  Excuse my all-American huh.

This is a big film, a large-scale production... large cast, many setups, scene after scene after scene... not to mention the intricacies of the story.  Among Fincher's many glorious accomplishments is an ability to provide dark, often violent dramas that tap into society's angst, woes and preoccupations.  Who could forget Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to name a few?  Gone Girl stands up there with the best of his work.

It's an interesting mixture of actors here and they all turn in  top-notch performances.  Affleck was a good choice... he delivers a great balancing act in revealing opposing aspects of his character and turns in one of his best performances.  As his faithful sister, Carrie Coon was also smashing as was Kim Dickens as the bulldog cop in charge of the case. 

Most compelling is Rosamund Pike as Amy, the missing wife.  I've enjoyed her work from her earliest days as a Bond girl in Die Another Day through playing Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice to An Education and Barney's Version.  She also acts in the next film I'm reviewing.  If you don't know her now, you will certainly not forget her after seeing Gone Girl.  You may confiscate all my movie passes if I am lying.

All technical credits contribute to an overall well-done film.  I would have given it four stars had it not been for a slow spot at the end, the overall length and just a couple of oh come ons.

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