by Coop Cooper
When Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) disappears under suspicious circumstances, her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) cooperates with the police lead by the shrewd Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens). The story intermittently flashes back to show how Amy and Nick met, their whirlwind romance and their descent into mutual bitter resentment. As the evidence is uncovered, the community and the media begin to turn on Nick, believing him to be a murderer.
To end that description of the plot with ‘but all is not what it seems…’ would be an understatement. Much has been hyped about the New York Times best-selling novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay), with many critics claiming the twist and turns in the story makes this one a must-read.
This film adaptation will be nominated for Academy Awards and will probably win a few. Here are the reasons why…
The acting: Ben Affleck had a difficult time being taken seriously after beginning his career, first as a heel in indie comedies, then as a leading man in some of the cheesiest Hollywood action movies of the 90’s and early 2000’s. His Oscar-win along with Matt Damon for writing “Good Will Hunting”, at first, seemed like a fluke but now the actor has fully transformed in to a serious auteur and dramatic actor. In “Gone Girl” he fully disappears into his role as the camera stays on him for 90% of the film. Rosamund Pike; however, will most certainly receive a nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of the emotionally damaged Amy in this film. While I always admired the actress for her poise and beauty, I’ve never seen anything like this kind of performance from her. “Gone Girl” will quickly elevate her to an A-list, go-to, leading dramatic actress. Watch and see.
The production: Fincher was obviously an excellent choice to helm the film version as he cut his teeth on twisted crime films like “Seven”, “The Game” and more recently with the English adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. While he is most well known for his heavy use of stylistic elements, here he has toned down his usual form to make the mood more quiet and melancholy. Once again he employed Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor to compose the score which I found to be superior to his Oscar-winning, yet uninteresting score from “The Social Network”. For the music in “Gone Girl”, it’s almost as if he was told to imagine the saddest horror film ever made and take inspiration from it. It is haunting as it is masterful.
The story: I was not prepared for the twists and turns this film would take in its latter-half. Once I analyzed the context clues in the trailers and plot descriptions, I thought I had it figured out. I was right at first. It could have ended halfway in and I would have been vindicated if not terribly impressed. In the second half, the story evolved into something much different and by the end, I was emotionally devastated, not just by the story, but by what the film says about the modern American family and the horrific circus of a scandal-obsessed 24-hour media.
The film exposes how easily manipulated the general public is by the media, the internet and popular opinion and how those things can be twisted to serve a nefarious purpose. I felt in a way this was similar to films in which science turns people into monsters, except in this case, it’s the negative influences of the modern world that can change us into something abominable. It can infect us with unrealistic expectations, blind us with delusions of fame and fortune, warp our morals and trick us into believing anything we hear (Facebook, I’m also pointing at you). As frightening as it was to see how the general public can become infatuated with someone or viciously turn on them due to hearsay and limited perception, it was even more frightening to see the ultimate solution to the problem.
This is one of the most subversively complex thrillers I’ve seen since “The Usual Suspects” back in 1995. It is the ‘watercooler’ movie of the year and it will probably be the most talked about film when the Oscar nominations come out early next year. The only complaint I can see a mainstream audience having with it is that it didn’t provide them with the ending they probably wanted. To that, I would argue it provided them with the ‘cautionary tale’ ending they actually needed.
Rating: 5 out of 5