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Gone Girl (2014)

November 2, 2014

Gone-Girl-PosterIn the weeks after seeing Gone Girl I debated whether I should even write about my subpar feelings towards it. Gone Girl has been the golden child of cinema this year. Not only is its critical ratings through the roof, but friends and word of mouth had been singing its praises before I had even found the time to see it. Yet, I couldn’t find the immaculate whole of Fincher’s psychological thriller/dark comedy. I appreciated how he directed such a brilliantly brimming look at witch hunts started by the media sensationalizing news and creating celebrities out of victims and suspects. However, it lacked a depth and humane quality to make the film exceptional.

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) wakes up one morning to discover that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is missing. Broken glass and overturned furniture indicating that a struggle took place. As the days dwindle by, we watch as a media frenzy ignites in the search for Amy. Nick immediately becomes a suspect even more so because of his calm, cool demeanor and circumstantial evidence. Nick gets picked apart and prodded by the media who paints him as the devil to the sweet, loving angel Amy. While Nick, along with his powerful attorney, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), work hard to set the record straight for the peace of mind of the public and his own loved ones, audiences learn a chilling discovery about Amy’s disappearance.

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On a technical level Gone Girl is practically flawless. Fincher’s greatness as a director is reaffirmed through the mysterious atmosphere that he and his long-term collaborator and director of photography, Jeff Cronweth create. Together their cobalt-tinged aesthetic keeps viewers on edge in desperation to see the next move in the chess game between cops, Nick, and Amy. Affleck does wonders with his stale, unlikable character by capturing Nick’s social awkwardness with charming elegance. Though Nick is a class a fuck up, Affleck displays his quirky aloofness granting his character the right amount of sympathetic qualities, even when he  continually proves to be an idiot. It’s easy to cringe in embarrassment for Nick in times of misunderstanding as well as it is to laugh at his uncomfortable attempts to appease onlookers. Pike is phenomenal bouncing back and forth in emotion and intent while exposing her character’s twisted calculating mind. Small performances from Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister Margo, and Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney all emit wondrous sympathetic qualities through memorable performance.

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Though the film is a technical success, I found the overall story to be embarrassingly weak. Either this is a reflection of Gillian Flynn’s original story or her adaptation of the script. It is fascinating watching Amy’s cold conniving nature, but her lack of comeuppance is unrealistic. Anyone who watches at least one of the dozens of “Law and Order” marathons would find fault in the way FBI officials handle the case in the last half. Bruises don’t match weapons that were supposedly used and stories are grossly inconclusive. Amy’s tight relationship with Desi (Harris) is strange because it’s never explored in-depth. This is a man whom she has accused of stalking and misconduct in the past but they rekindle without a second thought. In fact, Amy’s character is the most underdeveloped of the film, which at times makes her the prototype of the “crazy bitch” in a film. This creates an odd dynamic view of the other women we meet in the film who are portrayed as either dumb and untrustworthy. I questioned the author’s viewpoint of women for some time before discovering that the screenwriter is in fact a woman.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gone Girl though I was not overly impressed. It possess a brilliant commentary on the media’s interference in high-profiled cases, especially through a Nancy Grace inspired figure of the film played by Missy Pyle. This refreshing critique of cable news is one that I hope reminds audiences to stray from allowing cable news to act as judge, jury, and executors of any given case. The authority we grant the media to condemn the lives of others before the courts do is a bane of our society that associates innocent people with criminal activity which in turn haunts them for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, a message of this magnitude becomes a side note to the antics of Amy. Had a more fleshed out look into her mental state been a focus, I would have found more clout with the story Gone Girl was attempting to tell instead of faults.

SEE IT. But, do so with low expectations the way I should have.

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