Hey guys! We’re back this week with David Fincher’s highly anticipated adaption of Gillian Flynn’s best selling mystery novel Gone Girl, featuring new guest writer Will. Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris is rated R for bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.
Gone Girl follows the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Pike), loving wife of Nick Dunne (Affleck), on their fifth anniversary. What starts out as a seemingly routine missing persons case slowly evolves into a magnified media frenzy capitalizing on Nick’s every move. Crumbling under heavy media scrutiny and intense police pressure, Nick is pushed to his limit. With his lies exposed and his apathetic behavior criticized, everyone becomes to ask the wonder the same thing: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?
9.5 out of 10
First off, shout out to my good friend Will for joining us on the blog. You don’t know what you signed up for, but I’m still glad to have you on board.
Second of all, disclaimer: Gone Girl is extremely hard to review without completely spoiling, so I’m gonna do my best, but when I have to spoil, I will warn you.
And now for the movie. If I got anything out of Gone Girl, it would be 1) Don’t marry a psychopath and 2) If you are going to marry a psychopath, make sure she’s hot (that way it’s worth it).
All jokes aside, I thought that Gone Girl was a fantastically constructed film. David Fincher has already established himself as a fantastic, consistent director, putting up masterpieces in Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network, and even a few episodes of House of Cards. He is a dark, brooding mastermind who puts together nothing less than thrilling films that will blow your mind (Sometimes, in the case of Edward Norton in Fight Club, almost literally). He is a smart, technical genius and shows us nothing less with Gone Girl.
The way Fincher manipulates perspective is the work of an absolute genius. Whether it’s through angles, lights or music, everything was used to give each audience member his or her own, individual understanding of the plot. The best example of this is the development of Nick through the use of flashbacks. Half of us believe he’s a liar and a killer, solely because of the flashbacks narrated by Rosamund Pike’s supposedly honest character, Amy Dunne. The eeriness, and later on, the caustic nature of the flashbacks try to turn us on Nick. Yet, the other half of us somehow refuse to believe that he’s completely guilty. Nick is our anti-hero here; we think we know everything there is to know about him. Through the present day timeline, we see that he is struggling under all the pressure and that many of the statements he makes are actually genuine. As inhumane as he’s perceived in the fictionalized media, we see him as human. Thanks to Affleck’s A-List performance, in addition to Fincher’s stellar direction, our view of the film allows us to make conjectures, keeping us invested, while keeping us ignorant enough to be shocked at every twist and turn that comes after. Simply put, the storytelling is absolutely fantastic.
This leads me to the actual story. The plot is admittedly complicated, but its intensity more than makes up for its relatively convoluted nature. There are so many twists and turns and each one of these is supported by fantastic build up that makes the moment all the better. ***Major spoiler alert*** For example, Rosamund Pike’s character sets up a treasure hunt for her and Nick’s anniversary, and the final clue leads Nick to a woodshed in which Amy has stored a bunch of video games and toys in her attempt to frame Nick for her murder. The build up to the reveal of the woodshed—creepy music overlooking Nick’s desperate attempts to solve her riddle with a bit of solemn Rosamund Pike narration throw in there—built up a lot of suspense. We could feel the tension rising and sensed something was coming but we were never prepared for what would happen next: Amy being alive and well. ***Spoiler alert over***
I can tell you now that the ending will be very divisive among viewers. Some will love it, some will not. On my right, Will will point to a surplus of unanswered questions, but I will tell you that this isn’t necessarily a problem. Not every movie should give you all the answers: that would be no fun! ***Spoiler*** The fact that Amy is still alive does make it even more difficult for us, as the flashbacks are revealed to be fabricated, but I think this is intentional. What happened and what didn’t is something that’s left to the viewer to interpret. ***End spoiler*** On the other hand, I do agree that Fincher leaves us on a bit of a cliffhanger, without a proper understanding of what happens next with the Dunne’s. However, I find this to be the right decision. We don’t really need to know more beyond this point. The story is about the disappearance of Amy Dunne, and once that part is over, Fincher makes the bold, but correct decision to cut us off. The implications are startling, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. The disturbing nature of the film, which is what makes it so enthralling, is furthered by the abrupt ending, one that leaves us scared of the horrifying potential for the situation to unravel. This film does not have a happy ending and that is just fine with me. There is nothing wrong with a movie with an exciting plot and a fantastic story-line, featuring a fantastic (Oscar deserving???) Rosamund Pike portrayal of a calculated, psychopathic killer, capped by an ambiguous ending that left me engaged in fan theories. That my friends, is a great movie.
6.5 out of 10
What a day this is! The movie gods have smiled down upon me and finally allowed me to write for Screenwars (no, I don’t take offense to the fact that I am one of the last of Vig and Zach’s friends to be granted a guest write, and no, I didn’t have to bug Vig extensively to get this to happen). I am truly tickled.
But, enough of me: let’s get to Gone Girl
The hype on this movie was deafening: Ben Affleck, two time Best Picture winner and newly designated Batman, stars, alongside a fantastic cast, in an adaptation of a New York Times bestselling thriller, all helmed by the ineffable David Fincher. My friends (read: Vig) touted this movie as a potential Oscar winner in multiple categories. Rotten tomatoes rated it at 87% fresh (by comparison, Forrest Gump sits at a meager 71%) and review conglomerate Metacritic gave the film a healthy 79 (Oscar winner Black Swan sits at the same mark).
Despite these high praises, Gone Girl was as disappointing as not having enough milk left in your glass to dip the last Milano. That is to say it simply doesn’t deserve the hype.
I must first admit that I’m not an experienced movie reviewer as is my friend writing on the left here. Still, I’ve been to quite a few films over the years and can separate the good from the bad, the Dark Knights from the Spiderman 3s.
I can therefore write with certainty that Gone Girl was neither good nor bad, but decidedly mediocre.
It dragged noticeably at points throughout its inexcusable 2 hour and 25 minute running time, and it never really reached the peaks of intensity that it was going for. It featured Dark Knight –esque ringing sounds (first few seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3-ClsRE9Yk) that rise to a climaxing at a pitch at its tensest times, but I never felt my heartbeat quicken and a pit form in my stomach like I should at those moments. Instead it seemed like the movie thought it was more thrilling than it actually was.
Vig over on my left will also try to convince you how constantly surprising the story was. And, to a certain extent, his point has merit. However is a certain moment in some thrillers where the story becomes so complicated, so convoluted that you need a graphic organizer just to keep everything straight. Gone Girl reached that point and blew right through it. There are so many loose ends, so many questions left unanswered (many of them crucial plot elements) and so many story lines that were half developed and then seemingly abandoned, that feel like the tape I watched must have been missing about 30 minutes. Fincher tried to pull the rug out from under us so often that eventually we just expected to be surprised.
***Major spoilers follow. Reader beware.***Perhaps the most disappointing element of the film was the development of the plotline. After Nick finds the woodshed with all of the goods Amy had purchased to create an economic motive for Nick to kill her, we learn that Amy had faked her abduction and is actually still alive and carrying out her plot to destroy Nick. This was one of the twists where I was enthralled: she faked a crime scene with just enough mistakes to suggest a hastily done cleanup by Nick, and has created a diary that chronicles an increasingly violent and abusive marriage. Had the film continued on this path I would likely have given it an 8.5, but instead it called upon a wholly uninteresting filler character to provide plot structure and a completely implausible way to work Amy back into Nick’s life. The result was fantastic and really showed just how psychopathic Amy was, but the process of getting there seemed contrived and ruined the moment.
At this point the movie may seem more warranting of a 5 or so. The 6.5 is wholly due to Rosamund Pike’s absorbing portrayal of Amy Elliot Dunne. Her turn as a jovial Harvard graduate turned psychopathic and delusional killer is, if not Oscar deserving, Oscar nominee deserving. Her voice-over diary entries are chill inducing, (watch out, Morgan Freeman) and her cold stare is prickling. Props to her.
But alas, Pike cannot save this movie. It is too long, too contrived, too over-hyped, and too unpredictable. Vig, don’t take offense, but in my opinion as a casual movie goer, you’re mistaking Oscar wannabe for Oscar deserving, Velveeta for real cheese.
Did you like Gone Girl? Hate it? Let us know in the comment section below!