David Fincher returns with the adaptation of the critically acclaimed novel "Gone Girl" from Gillian Flynn.
Though director Fincher to this day isn't granted the "glory" of receiving an Oscar for Best Director, he nevertheless made a tremendous name for himself. With stylish directing work especially in the aspects of story, camera angles, music and acting, there is as good as no bad Fincher movie to this day...well except that one movie (*insert Alien 3 joke here*).
Nevertheless, David Fincher nowadays is generally associated with high quality filmmaking, that hopefully now will just as likely be present in his newest novel adaptation, Gone Girl...
On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick's portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?
Source: 20th Century Fox
Gone Girl is one of those movies that are just incredibly hard to talk about without spoiling anything that could ruin your experience. With that said, Gone Girl is definitely a movie that is just littered with great twists and turns making the movie develop into unexpected ways and making audiences always keep on guessing. Therefore, i hope that you can understand that the following movie review will feel quite a bit less in-depth for your own good.
Though directing a thriller is nothing new to director David Fincher, Gone Girl very interestingly enough turns out to be a thriller of another kind that effectively manages to distance itself quite a bit from other thrillers of his like "The Game" or "The Dragon With The Dragon Tattoo". This is accomplished most notably through the movie's flawless atmosphere and pacing that somewhat cleverly underlines and accompanies the viewer's own investigative thought process.
Thus, Gone Girl is a movie that starts out on a slow-building yet solid pace that focusses on establishing character relationships as well as the main premise of the movie with Nick Dunne's (Ben Affleck's) wife, the famous author "Amazing" Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), going missing.
Investigative work by the police starts and quickly the media rushes to the scene and makes Nick the center of attention with the main question being: "Did he kill his wife?".
|"Where is your wife, Nick?"|
Though the movie's very realistic feel provokes viewers to specualte, the movie's first half might easily be received as being a bit predictable for the viewer. However, this is where Gone Girl slowly aims to change your perspective more and more throughout the entire movie.
This is primarily done through two seperate narrations taking place during the course of the movie: the present happenings of Amy's disappearance as well as Amy narrating past happenings that she kept in her diary. Therefore, viewers will often be feed crucial details about Amy's and Nick's private life that will help the audience immensely to make up their own mind about "who done it?" as well as their general opinion about each character. Whereas it at first might seem fairly clearly established to the viewer who is innocent and who is not, the lines quickly tend to blur. Yet, instead of simply changing character's roles entirely ala "turns out the good guy is really the bad guy" (as so many thrillers tend to do this), Gone Girl does a tremendous job in establishing main characters that all seem to have just as many good aspects to them as much as they have negative ones, making it hard to entirely root for a character.
|Prepare for twists, turns and changing opinions.|
Focussing on themes like the evils that hide and grow behind the facades of stereotypical suburban lives, even the few more clicheed feeling side characters in Gone Girl seem to be intentionally written and directed to act that way to underline the movie's main themes.
However, at about the half-way mark the movie reveals most definitely it's core main twist, which alone would have been enough for most average Hollywood thrillers to end on. Yet, this is where Gone Girl really just starts to take off. After the first half of the movie, which generally was a big set-up for what's coming, this main twist is where the movie truely pulls you in.
I am very sorry that i really can't tell you anything detailed about the second half without initially spoiling anything, but let me tell you, even at a length of about almost 3 hours, the second half of Gone Girl is so investing that it's one of those rare very long movies that you simply don't want to end.
Nevertheless, when the movie does end eventually, it leaves you with an immensely powerful ending. It's not necessarily a conventional Hollywood ending (and therefore will undeniably leave many viewers disappointed in a way), but Gone Girl's ending eventually will reveal itself as a great frame rounding up the movie's happenings and characters' actions up as fittingly as possible. After this gut-busting ending sunk into you, it will eventually make sense that this is the only way the movie could (and probably should) have ended.
|Many viewers will likely have this look on their face during the ending.|
But Gone Girl's strengths aren't only present in the movie's amazing storyline but most notably also in the well directed acting of seemingly every cast member.
Leading the bunch is Ben Affleck, who more and more developed actually quite good acting skills over the years (alongside his sudden success as a director). Though Gone Girl is probably no Oscar-worthy showcase of acting talent, Ben Affleck sells his character Nick Dunne very well to the audience. With that said, the movie's theme of how the media influences the public opinion on a specific person is very well actively played out on the movie's audience itself.
Whereas Ben Affleck's character at first seems to be a flawless every-man, details from his wife Amy's (Rosamund Pike's) diary make it easy for the audience to get suspicious about him. The audience will catch themselves wanting to like Nick Dunne but they nevertheless will be kept invested enough in the crime-solving aspects of the movie to not fully fall for him.
|Maybe not the smartest expression to have when your wife is missing.|
On the other side we got Rosamund Pike as the missing Amy Dunne. This is by far the best performance in Pike's career. Especially through her delivery as a person with different facettes she fits extraordinarily well into the roster of the other performances. Though at many times, especially during the second half of the movie, most of her performance is directed into a very specific direction, her character very well delivers the core themes and messages of the movie.
But a great David Fincher movie wouldn't be complete without a strong cast of supporting side characters, and especially in Gone Girl, many of them tend to actually steal the show.
There, especially Tyler Perry as Nick's super capable and charismatic lawyer Tanner Bolt is the most guilty of stealing the show. Without devolving too much into joke- or weirdo-territory, he steals every scene through his very well written and delivered lines aiming to defend Nick against all of the accusations he is facing. Tyler Perry often literally feels like the "Ace up Nick's sleeve" who always keeps his cool and knows what to do. His line "Elvis has arrived in Missouri", when accepting to defend Nick, couldn't be more fitting.
|"Come with me if you want to live."|
Another notable side-character is Detective Rhonda Boney played by Kim Dickens. Though not straving to far away from what has already been seen in other performances from independent female detectives in thrillers who are constantly putting evidences, suspects and other aspects of the crime into question, her character is a nice and essential driving force to the plot.
Especially amongst all the media buzz with news channels constantly distorting facts about the crime case and putting specific characters into the direct "possible murder spotlight", it's nice to have Detective Rhonda Boney act as a neutral middle-ground. She can often be seen as the embodiment of the viewer trying to solve the case from the most objective way possible. While she is not pointing to puzzling inconsistencies about the crime too much or too often for the viewer, her character does very well in mixing up affirming the viewer's own personal doubts as well as directing the viewer's attention nicely to crucial aspects about the case that he might have missed.
Also, supporting actors like Carrie Coon playing Nick's sister Margo Dunne definitely deserve a mention. While nothing too special, she does great as a necessary family support for Nick as well as underlining the emotional impacts in specific scenes through her performance.
Last but not least, Neil Patrick Harris should be mentioned. Even though his character, Desi Collings, who is a past love of Nick's wife Amy, is most probably intended to be played as a young and rich snob, his character occasionally made it a bit hard to stay immersed in the movie. As already mentioned, his extremely stereotypical performance as a snobby rich guy is very likely intended to be played that way to underline specific themes of the movie. Yet, it's just sadly the "coincidence" that Neil Patrick Harris' character here makes it very hard for the viewer to not instantly draw parallels to another almost identical (yet more comedic) version of the same character - Barney Stinson from "How I Met Your Mother".
Though it's nice that Neil Patrick Harris also tries to act in more serious movies to show his wider array of acting abilities, it's just a case of an unfortunate casting choice that unnecessarily risks to break the viewer's immersion into story. Another actor playing Desi Collings would've benefitted the movie probably a bit more. But this complaint rather goes into "nitpicking territory".
|"Funny story...I don't believe you."|
All in all, Gone Girl is an exceptionally great thriller from director David Fincher that really comes to life through the fact that as good as all aspects of the movie are being pulled of flawlessly.
Even at a running time at almost 3 hours, Gone Girl does a tremendous job of keeping you invested in the movie's happenings and making you feel like a crime detective yourself. Through the movie's dual storytelling that takes place in the present as well as the past through Amy's diary entries the illusion of a predictable thriller slowly and effectively disappears for viewers, opening way for an unpredictable thriller that, especially after its core main twist, you just won't want to end.
With great performances by all of the actors, interesting and complex characters, another amazing score by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, a highly immersing storyline as well as clearly aimed at themes and topics, there's not much more to say than that Gone Girl is easily one of the best movies this year.
Even compared to David Fincher's other thrillers, Gone Girl stands on its own. While to some extent one might say that it succesfully mixes the more realistic tone of "Zodiac" with the more cinematic nature of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", even those are not fully comparable to Gone Girl.
Therefore, I would truely recommend watching Gone Girl with a completely clean and open mindset to get the full effect of this exceptional thriller. You won't regret it.
Final Verdict: 9 out of 10