Two Trips To The Movies – Review: ‘Gone Girl’ 10.3 and 10.5

There is something special about seeing a new film on opening night by one of the most celebrated directors of the past 20 years. There’s a certain feeling or excitement that goes along with it that is difficult to put into words. Take for example when Martin Scorcese released “The Departed” in 2006. I was living in Portland, Maine at the time and had been following the news on it through pre production, filming, and post production; and knew that it was filmed in/around the Boston area. Being in that Boston was 2 hours (only 2 hours) away, I knew right then and there that I would be making every effort to see it opening night in the city it was filmed in as I thought it would only add to the authenticity of the whole experience. Seeing a new Scorsese movie, one that was being hailed as a return to his “Goodfellas” and “Casino” roots, with a sold out crowd on opening night in the city it was filmed in? There really isn’t anything like it. At least for me anyway. Even if I did wind up ultimately being let down by it. It’s the waiting in line for over an hour with people who are equally as excited, to finally being let in by the usher who unhooks the rope, and then finding yourself a good seat. Only to sit back among the buzz of the audience and prepare yourself for something that you’ve waited so long to see. That exact feeling and experience is one that I’ve only felt and had maybe a half a dozen to a dozen times in my life. It’s like the rush of a drug, and one that I’m constantly trying to chase again. When I first heard about “Gone Girl” all I needed to know was that it was directed by David Fincher, and from that point forward I made a cognizant choice to close myself off from everything about it. I did however catch the initial trailer while seeing another film several months ago and remember thinking “huh, that trailer didn’t tell me anything. And I’m glad it didn’t. Because from that point forward I wanted to know absolutely nothing about it. Even going into the opening night showing I knew 4 things – that it was based on a New York Times Bestseller, that it starred Ben Affleck (who I had my doubts about) and involved a kidnapping (the only 2 things I could make out from the trailer). And, finally, that it was directed by David Fincher. Fincher is one of maybe 10 directors (Roman Polanski being another one that I mentioned in my last review) where I’ve seen just about every film he’s made. Going all the way back to his debut with the horrible 1992 “Alien 3” (I gave him a pass with that one – he was young and probably thought it would kick start his career ) to his groundbreaking “Se7en” (1995), to 1997’s smart and clever “The Game”, to 1999’s admirable but slightly overrated “Fight Club”, to 2002’s mostly forgetabble “Panic Room”, to what I still consider to be my favorite Fincher film – 2007’s “Zodiac”, to 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (a film where I’m in the minority but that I find comparable to “Forrest Gump”), to 2010’s remarkable “The Social Network”, and finally 2012’s solid and equally dark adaptation of the remake of the Swedish “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. David Fincher is one of those directors that my anticipation of seeing a new film of his is so great that I don’t even have to contemplate for a second whether or not I’ll be seeing it on opening night. That and I went to see it twice. Mostly because I owe it to Fincher in that I sometimes feel, like with other directors of his caliber, that his films often require a second viewing.

A loose synopsis of the film is that it revolves around Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who at first appears unhappy with his life and the way in which it’s heading. He owns a bar in which his sister whom he’s close with works at. He has a father in an assisted living home who he’s not so close with. Through a series of both flashbacks and flash-forwards we are shown how him and his wife Amy (played by Rosamund Pike) came to meet. Amy writes for a magazine in a column where she goes by “Amazing Amy”, and through a series of journal entries we are told the story of how they came to meet and fall both in and out of love. But then it flash-forwards to Nick coming home to find his wife missing and it appears as if a murder may have taken place. Did he commit it? The detectives assigned to the case certainly think he did. He’s completely solemn and well composed about the whole thing. This augmented by an interrogation where we learn that he really doesn’t know much about his wife other than that she “was really complicated”. Which might have to do with the fact that despite their having fallen madly in love with one another, they also show how their love unravels to where they wind up loathing and having nothing but the utmost disdain for one other. So much so to the point where she feels so threatened by her husband that she purchases a gun in order to protect herself. Flashing forward again all eyes are on Affleck’s character, as everyone from the police, local townspeople, to the eventual press and national media, wind up being convinced that it could have possibly only been him who did it.

The film winds up being a mixed bag. There were elements about it that I loved greatly and other elements I had some serious problems with. I really liked Fincher’s vision and take on the story (though admittedly I haven’t read the novel in which it’s based on). It’s unbelievably dark and psychological in all the best ways. He has a knack for creating a mood and tone that’s uncanny to almost any other film maker around. The way in which he shoots the film with blueish and cold color filters gives it an almost dream-like quality at times and a nightmarish one at others. That and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score really accentuates the material nicely. Similar to their work on “The Social Network” and like the electronic scores of recent years by Cliff Martinez. All three composers whose music is almost like a second character in the films they write for. I also liked the second guessing element to the whole proceeding. It’s a constant game of asking yourself questions and following the trail of bread crumbs that are effectively laid out for you. And Rosamund Pike gives a mighty fine performance here. One that I can potentially see her getting an Academy Award nomination for for Best Actress come Oscar time. Where its greatest weakness lies is in its inability to feel even remotely authentic. To me it felt incredibly sterile, transparent, stagey, and at times similar to that of a TNT movie of the week. All of the performances besides Pike’s felt awkwardly wooden. Even though I’m told it’s fitting that Affleck’s character comes across that way as it’s more faithful to the novel. But casting Tyler Perry as the lawyer, Neil Patrick Harris as one of Amy’s ex’s, and Patrick Fugit as one of the detectives was a total misfire and all three of them seemed totally out of place. I thought none of these or any of the other performances stood out even in the slightest other than Pike’s. I also felt that the pacing felt a bit uneven and jarring at times. One scene would grab a hold of my attention and then the flashback or flash-forward following it would lose my interest. Lastly, there were quite a few plot holes throughout the story that the writer and director ask the viewer to take a pretty considerable leap of faith with. Still, it had a fair amount going for it. So for some of the more positive reasons I mentioned above I would definitely recommend seeing it. That and I can also see it being a really divisive film. But for people like me, it is and always will be looked at as a minor Fincher effort in his ever expanding body of work.

Grade: First time: strong B / Second time: C+ / Overall: B-

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8 thoughts on “Two Trips To The Movies – Review: ‘Gone Girl’ 10.3 and 10.5

  1. My only complaint was the ending. It definitely didn’t feel as brilliant as the ending of let’s say, a movie like Se7en. But otherwise, the bulk of movie was really good fun.

    Ben Affleck as “Nick” in this & him as “Fred O’Bannion” in Dazed&Confused are now my 2 all-time fav Affleck performances. Affleck has this perfect, douchey, do you believe him or not, bullshiter look to him, perfect for this role.
    Several of the characters stood out.. for example, loved the trashy news talk show host, “Ellen Allen” or Amy’s parents.
    &the way the story was told, kept you on your toes, it was entertaining, like trashy-fun-entertaining, almost like reading up&down headlines from a National Enquirer magazine type of a feel.

    90/A-

    I’d say this is 1 of DavidFincher’s top 5 movies, probably #4 for me, right ahead of TheGame.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with Mark.. Liked the movie a
      Lot and thought Ben afflec played a good roles as he is kinda like that in real life.. I don’t know about how believable some of the characters like Tyler perry but Neil Patrick was good…
      Over all
      A-91

      Liked by 1 person

    2. First off I’m glad you liked it as much as you did. I wish I had of seen it once and that was it. Because the second time it felt incredibly pulpy, artificial, and over calculated. Affleck may have been good for the role. Assuming the adaptation was a faithful one. However, to say that Affleck was good simply because he was playing the character he’s been pigeonholed into playing, simply just isn’t good enough for me. And while I thought the news anchor was good given the media satire aspect of it (in retrospect something I should have discussed in my review but left out). I found a lot of the other characters to be “disposable”. For example his dad. I mean, I understand why he was in it in terms of context. But they just kind of introduce him and then let him drop. He, her neighbor friend, and the young woman she meets at the cabin. All to me were disposable.

      Here are some other questions I have of things that I felt weren’t properly explained or I felt tricked by – if Desi’s surveillance system was so elaborate and high tech wouldn’t it have caught Amy killing him on video? Are we as a viewer just supposed to accept that it didn’t? Also, why didn’t the police/2 detectives find all the stuff in the shed until the end? Even “if” Amy gave them the tip. In real life they would have gotten a search warrant long before that if they were investigating a possible murder to search both properties. To me I just wasn’t willing to overlook holes like that.

      And defintely not close to top 5 Fincher for me. “Zodiac”, “Se7en”, “The Game”, “Fight Club”, “The Social Network”, “The Curious Case of Ben Button”, and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” were better films. In my opinion anyway.

      As I mentioned in my review it seems to be a very divisive film in that I can see why some people might like it a lot more than others. Also, one last thing to point out – if that’s the type of film that is #1 at the box office. Regardless of what I thought about it. It shows that there’s still a semi intelligent movie going audience that exists inside of America. Which somewhat restores my faith.

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      1. I think that yes we r supposed to
        Assume that she figured out how to mess with Neil Patricks video surrvalence as
        She was doing that a few diff times in the movie… Also I think
        The woman in trailer park is critical in that they steal all her money and so then that’s when she has to call Neil Patrick who is obvi crazy obsswed with her.. Over that bitch was wicked evil and the movie was great except the ending

        Liked by 1 person

  2. See that’s exactly what didn’t work for me. I think it got itself so caught up in trying to be precise in terms of trying to accurately depict her elaborate plan, that it overlooked some crucial plot details. If things are “implied” or we’re supposed to assume stuff I look at that as a major oversight on behalf of the writers. If it really does want to be so calculated and make the whole thing seem real then as a viewer I need to be shown things like her tampering with the surveillance system “after” she kills Desi and not just before. Also, the question still stands that if the detectives were investigating a possible murder, than why wouldn’t they have gotten a search warrant to search both properties long before? I just wasn’t able to overlook things like that.

    Also, I agree with your comment on the woman at the cabin being critical in terms of context of the story and where it went from there. I just felt like she was one dimensional and poorly written. Like I did with so many of the other characters other than Rosemund Pike’s/Amy.

    Like

  3. Oh, see I disagree with your “disposable characters” remark. I think characters like specifically Amy’s Mom&Dad, the pregnant neighbor ‘best friend’, the lawyer Tanner Bolt, the 2 main detectives & creepy NeilPatrickHarris all definitely enhanced the movie (for me).
    Loosen up; it’s ok to say Ben Affleck was good in this. Ha! I know you’re not a big fan of him as an actor.
    Sure, there were some holes in the story. I’m sure you noticed or focused on those a lot more the 2nd time around that you saw this.
    There are holes in every movie like this – for example, Primal Fear. Some movies like this or The Sixth Sense obviously won’t be enjoyed as much on the 2nd viewing, but the first time around, they are great fun to watch. This genre is my favorite, & yes, Trent Reznor’s score rocked-was electric, & I’d also agree with you that Rosamund Pike gave a badass performance.
    For me, on the 1st tier of Fincher films, Se7en & the Social Network are #1 & #2 & then there’s a whole next tier that contains this, along with his other movies you just listed off (although for me, I would not include TheCuriousCaseOfBenButton, I don’t think I enjoyed that as much as you did).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. &I felt like a lot of the characters were 1 dimensional on purpose – introduced into the story by Amy. & manipulated by Amy to progress her intricate plot against her husband.

    & Amy’s plan was only “so elaborate” until it became unglued; Right up till that turning point that Justin points out, where the trailer trash duo jacks her $ from her & she’s forced to call NeilPatrickHarris). That’s where her elaborate, controlling sociopath, perfectly planned plot gets sloppy, falls off her intricate track & she begins to lose control of the sitch (but again, I think that’s done on purpose).
    Rosamund Pike plays a damn good Sociopath, that’s for sure (&unfortunately,I feel like I have had my fair share of experience dealing with a sociopath)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Gone Girl” B. I thought this was a solid adaptation of what was an unbelivable book by Gillian Flynn. The complete obsessive that the Amy character under (and Rosamund Pike’s portrayal) was fantastic. How Flynn could write about such a character with ease is something to marvel. Having read the book prior to seeing the film I thought the casting was pretty spot on, and Fincher’s direction does a good job of adapting the film to screen. There are alot of intertwining characters and narrative in this where if you didnt have the rigtht director you could botch it, but by hiring Fincher you already know your in good hands. Thought Affleck was good, but Rosamund Pike was cast perfectly in my opinion and stole the show. One thing that kept this B range for me were their were some discrepancies in the film that weren’t in the book. Most importantly Tanner Bolt in the book (played in the film by Tyler Perry) is actually white not black, but Bolt’s whife is black who was completely left out of the film. Also, the two detectives in the film playa much larger role than they do in the book. However, overall a solid adapation of the Flynn novel like I mentioned, will definitely be picking up her previous books and be reading them as I think both will be adapted for the screen coming up in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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