Gone Girl, the most recent Oscar nominated film from the award winning director, David Fincher, the mastermind behind such cult classics as Fight Club and Seven.
On the day of Nick Dunne fifth wedding anniversary, he arrives home to find his wife Amy missing and parts of the house in disarray. Amy's disappearance receives a lot of coverage in the media, where the media criticizes Nick's every action to the point of accusing him of murdering Amy. The film later reveals flashbacks from Amy's point-of-view as the truth is slowly unraveled.
As with Fincher's other films, you want to know as little as possible going into the film as possible, and as such, I will keep my review as board and spoiler-free as possible until the spoiler section at the end.
Directed by: David Fincher
Genre: Mystery, Drama,
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Running Time: 149 minutes
MMPA rating: R
The Good: Brilliant plot twists and turns, Oscar worthy performance by Rosamund Pike, Menacing atmosphere, Interesting commentary on the news and media, All around exception direction by David Fincher, Makes you question the truth, Characters are you genuinely hateable characters for all the right reasons,
The Bad: Slightly bloated First Act (45 minutes), Neil Patrick Harris does not belong, Lacks staying power,
Warning: This film is rated R and is only recommended for mature audiences.
Plot: 9.0/10- Through the film's use of flashbacks, it constantly makes you question what you originally thought to be true at the beginning of the film. At one point you might think you have it figured out and then something is revealed to mix things up, and this type of film that keeps you guessing is exactly my thing. Unlike a lot of modern mysteries, it gives you enough information to figure out the mystery without being too obvious.
The other element of the story is the commentary on how people view cases such of this only through the lens of the media, which often leads to wild and unfounded accusations. In this respect, it portrays said theme very effectively by incorporating it organically in the story. It criticizes the news writers and other people that make these wild claims that can often ruin the lives of the people that are involved, and in my opinion, it is a real problem.
However, Gone Girl's slow burn storytelling of the first 45 minutes was a little too slow. Most of the information present is necessary, but still felt a tad bloated. Also, the early parts of the film shows the romance between Nick and Amy in flashbacks, and it more or less falls into the standard corny romance that we have seen, although those scenes are brief before the important aspects of their relationship are revealed. Other than those early parts, the movie is paced fairly well.
Characterization: 8.8/10- Gone Girl has some of the worst and most hateable characters that I have seen in a long time, yet you hate them in the best way possible. They do immoral things, which makes you not want to like them, but the complexity of the characters and their motives are fascinating to see unfold. Of course, these characters do not do blatantly evil things like a villain in a story would to make you dislike them, but rather realistic things.
Nick Dunne is the main character and most of the film takes place from either his point-of-view or Amy's in the flashbacks. Even though you see a lot of the events unfold from Nick's POV, you are still presented with the question as how he is actually connected to Amy's disappearance as you ultimately end up analyzing his actions along with the media.
Amy's story is mostly told from flashbacks, and yet she is the best and most intriguing aspect of the film. Everything about her character just works for what the filmmaker goes for, although that has a lot to do with Rosamund Pike's performance.
The rest of the characters mostly serve to be components in the plot, with the exception of Nick's sister Margo, so none of the others receive much development, but that is not a bad thing.
Acting: 9.2/10- Rosamund Pike, hands down, wins Best Actress at any awards in my mind, and the fact that the Oscars did not give her one is a shame. Pike is so far above everyone else in her field last year that it is not even funny, and she steals the every scene that she in with her charm and unique voice.
Ben Affleck’s performance as Dunne starts out as very aloof and dopey, and while he almost overplays the aloof husband aspect, it mostly works for the type of character that he is trying to pull off.
Tyler Perry is, shockingly, not bad in his serious role. On the other hand, Neil Patrick Harris is just wrong for his role. I have not seen "How I Met Your Mother," so that has nothing to do with me not being able to separate this role from his previous ones; he is just wrong for the role and almost breaks the film's serious tone at times.
Special effects: N/A- David Fincher's direction and cinematography is all around exceptional. He does everything right with his framing of each shot.
Soundtrack: 7.8/10- Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score is great in that it creates an ominous atmosphere, but on its own, it is completely forgettable.
Entertainment Value: 8.0/10- Aside from the pacing issue in the early part of the film, Gone Girl's mystery kept me hooked, yet not enthralled, for the majority of the film. With that said, it does not the staying power to make me want to watch it again anytime soon or even make think about more than a day or two after watching it.
Overall: 8.5/10- Describing my favorite part of Gone Girl would be a massive spoiler (which I discuss below), so I will leave you with this: Gone Girl is both a fascinating look at how the problems with today's media and an intriguing mystery that will keep you interested throughout, despite the flaws that are present.
Closing comments: Even though there is a lot to like about the film, and it is one of my favorites from last year, several weeks after my initial viewing, Gone Girl has not had the staying power of other films that are among my favorites. It is a well made film, but it is not one that I want to watch again anytime soon unlike Fight Club or Hitchcock's classics.
As with my review of Fight Club (which you can read here), I almost feel handcuffed as a reviewer due to the potential for spoiling the film, so, if you have seen the film, continue reading; otherwise, skip to the comments and wait until you actually see the movie.
Recommended for: Mystery fans, Fincher fans, Drama fans,
*MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD* Again, if you have not seen the film, scroll down and leave a comment. Now, my favorite part of the movie is the twist that Amy is, in fact, alive. Having no prior knowledge of the source material or having heard any spoilers, I suspected the twist 30 minutes into the film and figured it out for certain about 15 minutes before the reveal. However, the fact the movie provided just enough clues to figure out the mystery without giving it away is a testament to Fincher's direction and the original author's writing (amusing it was done in a same way), because the twist does not feel unreasonable. After said twist, Amy is the type of femme fatale that I can't get enough of in fiction. Her plan is brilliantly thought-out as she manipulates Nick in the end to get her way. Finally getting to see an ending where the antagonist essentially wins is great, especially if said antagonist is one of my favorites. You hate her, but at the same time, you enjoy (or at least I did) how much I dislike the character and respect the writers and Rosamund Pike for crafting such a brilliant villain, which the main reason I enjoyed the film. Also, as you could probably tell, some aspects of my review described certain things slightly inaccurately in regards to Amy’s involvement as to not spoil the film for others.
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