Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Gone Girl

David Fincher is on the short list of my favorite directors working today.  I would say he probably ranks 4th behind Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and Neill Blomkamp.  In a follow up to his last film, the excellent (and Movie Blog Best Picture of 2012) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher delivers Gillian Flynn's popular novel Gone Girl to the big screen.  I have never read the book myself but have heard so much hype about it that I had to go see it (my wife and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to watch this in Albuquerque on our trip out there).

Gone Girl tells the modern-day story of relationship issues, infidelity and the media's sensationalization of a scandalous news story.  Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play Nick and Amy, an attractive married couple in suburban St. Louis who seem to have the perfect life on the surface. It doesn't take long for Fincher to reveal to the audience that everything is not perfect within the circle of their relationship. When Amy goes missing, the plot churns forward with a deep investigation into the disappearance of Amy by the local police (Friday Night Lights' Kim Dickens plays the lead investigator in her best performance of her career). As the film goes on, the layers of the mystery unravel and we see how the story plays out across the various media outlets. The news media as a whole ends up becoming a character itself in the film.

The movie looks great and has that signature Fincher shine to it. Through various unique camera shots (including a sensational gory sequence in a bedroom towards the end of the film) and terrific pacing, Fincher is able to keep the audience interested despite a bloated run time.  The atmospheric tension is ratcheted slowly thanks to yet another perfect accompanying score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

The acting is very strong across the board. Affleck continues to prove he's moved way past the Gigli/Pearl Harbor phase of his career.  Neil Patrick Harris gives a nuanced and slightly creepy performance as a former love interest of Amy.  Unknown Carrie Coon is very believable as the skeptic but loyal sister of Nick. The real find here is Pike who plays Amy in various layers of clever and conniving and totally owns every scene she's in.  This movie just wouldn't work without her daring performance. 

My biggest issue with this movie has to be the suspension of disbelief towards the end of the movie. I won't give anything away (for the few of you that haven't read the book) but the last quarter of the movie seems way too over-the-top and almost comical.  All of the serious tension and drama that was built up during the first part of the film gets thrown away as Nick and Amy almost become comic book characters that are no longer easy to relate to. If the film maintained it's dramatic integrity throughout I would have given this a higher rating.

That being said, I really did enjoy the ride and kudos to Fincher and especially Pike for committing 100% to this film. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good gritty R-rated drama that has a few moments of comic relief (Tyler Perry is AWESOME as the defense lawyer to Affleck's character). A strong 4 out of 5 JR's for another Fincher hit.  I would love to see Pike nominated for an Oscar, but I think most voters would feel her role is a bit too campy to be seriously recognized.

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