“Gone Girl” is an extremely clever movie, which I expect is down to the nature of Gillian Flynn’s novel. I also feel that the intelligence this movie exudes is most likely the result of David Fincher’s direction, as he managed to get the best out of the ever inconsistent Ben Affleck, and created an atmosphere of real intrigue, in what could’ve otherwise been a middle-of-the-road movie.
The film itself only has one big twist, but the path it takes along the way is never the straight and narrow. The minute details of this film are what makes it so great, and raise the movie above its slightly obvious story. We are initially led to believe that Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is simply an uncaring husband who no longer loves his wife, and as such the audience generates a dislike of him from the outset. This feeling of contempt is built up as more and more discrepancies in his behaviour are revealed, and we hear Amy (Rosemund Pike) narrate events and give a negative commentary of their relationship.
The first forty minutes of this film give you a singular and extremely narrow perspective of events, and inform your opinions towards the characters, and then in one moment of brilliance those opinions are shattered and thrown by the wayside. It’s an incredibly effective way of getting the audience involved with the characters and creating a sense of injustice for both of the leading characters simultaneously, meaning that who you are rooting for in this film isn’t necessarily clear. Although I did guess what the twist might be before even going to see the movie, (that isn’t a lie, the trailer force-fed us one particular way of seeing events and I knew that a best-selling book would never be so obvious), that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the film.
The movie revolves around the missing Amy Dunne and her dysfunctional relationship with her husband Nick; along the way certain revelations are uncovered which make the cops think that Nick may have had a hand in killing his wife, as the crime scene seems suspiciously staged, and Nick certainly isn’t distraught by Amy’s absence. There is certainly much more to this story than just that, but this is all that can be revealed without ruining the movie. What makes the film work is that Nick isn’t exactly husband of the year, he’s lazy, he’s selfish and he doesn’t really love his wife anymore. Their mundane life after moving back to his home town has led to resentment on both sides of the marriage, and both want out one way or another. The characters are exceptionally complex and unpredictable, even if Ben Affleck’s facial expressions don’t always give that impression. Rest assured that the story is smart, slick and constantly interesting as it progresses, but don’t expect to be enthralled by action set pieces or constant thrills, because that’s not what this film is about, it’s a slow-burner, but the flame is scalding.
The performances are astounding, and the amazing thing is that they aren’t coming from actors that always pull it out of the bag. As previously mentioned, Ben Affleck can be hit and miss, but we all know that he is capable amazing performances as both an actor and a director. In this film he is at his best, as he can easily pull off both the ignorant husband and the angry killer, without necessarily being either of those things. He has clearly had enough of his marriage and despises his wife, he has the temper and ferocity for murder, but at the same time he displays a caring side for his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon), and doesn’t exude the intelligence that this particular act of violence would require. So the audience is led to question what they believe, making the first half of this movie an enjoyable guessing game, rather than just a movie. Affleck’s performance really comes alive once the big reveal occurs, but even without this I think we’d be talking about a very strong performance, and a pretty good thriller.
Rosemund Pike is stunning in this movie. The frustrating thing about writing this review is that I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but to really do her performance justice I would have to say so many things which would ruin the movie. I will say this, “Gone Girl” is Rosemund Pike’s film, and she gives the best performance of this year by far as Amy Dunne. I wouldn’t want to be alone with her, she’s unhinged, threatening and downright evil at certain points in the film, and you certainly couldn’t blame Ben Affleck for killing her! She is often referred to as Amazing Amy in this movie and that is definitely the case, she’s a brilliant character and I loved her in this film for all the wrong reasons.
Neil Patrick Harris (the living legend), is very good in this movie and surprisingly he doesn’t feel out of place, even though he is in the company of two actors giving career best performances. As Desi Collings, one of Amy’s ex-boyfriends with a hell of an obsession, he is creepy and downright weird in every single scene he’s in. He even steals a couple of scenes from Rosemund Pike which is an incredible thing to say once you have seen her performance. I was really impressed by how well he fit into this film, as I was worried that he might ruin it for me. How can someone go from “Harold and Kumar : Escape From Guantanamo Bay” to this film and seem to belong in both? Only Neil Patrick Harris could do that credibly!
The same can be said of Tyler Perry, who turns in a great performance as Tanner Bolt, Nick’s shady attorney. He doesn’t exude the same strangeness as the rest of the main characters, but he is willing to believe anything Nick tells him, which makes him both a good lawyer and an interesting character, as he has the means to force the rest of the world to believe Nick too. He feels as though he is in control of each situation he is put in and has no overriding moral compass making him sway towards a particular view of events. He wants to win the case for himself, and by extension for Nick, and that’s all. As a character he provides some small moments of comic-relief in an otherwise tense movie, particularly as he throws gummy bears at Nick, which was a nice scene during all the chaos.
The characters in “Gone Girl” are so well formed, because none of them are what you would see as ‘good’ well-rounded human beings, other than possibly Margo, which means that their actions and reactions are just completely unpredictable. Nick begins the movie as a seemingly negligent husband with little care for the whereabouts of his wife, (SPOILER ALERT), but then we are thrust into a completely opposite point of view in which it is actually Amy who is the antagonist of the film, and we are completely behind Nick despite his questionable actions. At no point do you feel disconnected with these characters and you can understand their motives throughout. This is a brilliantly written film which is well directed, well acted, and well organised.
The secretiveness of the trailer was something I was expecting and quite pleased with, but I can see that in some cases it will lead audience members to feel disappointed, as the movie isn’t what they thought they were paying to see (as was the case with one of the people I went to the cinema with). Nevertheless, that’s just a matter of taste in this instance, as I don’t think anyone would actually be able to pick out any major flaws of the movie. If you don’t like “Gone Girl” then it’s probably because it isn’t your sort of movie, or you wanted a bit more to happen, but it won’t be because you thought the film was poorly acted or directed, or because it wasn’t well thought out.
There were a couple of problems with this movie, such as, (SPOILER ALERT), the fact that at one point in the movie Amy was allowed to leave the hospital still covered in blood, which seemed incredibly wrong because the hospital just wouldn’t let that happen. They’d need to check that the blood wasn’t going to infect Amy with HIV or any other disease, and they’d want to clear her up just for the sake of general patient care. However, these minor faults can be overlooked due to the overall brilliance of this film, and the fact that the blood was left on the character for a clear reason, once you carry on watching the movie.
“Gone Girl” is a very long movie, particularly when you consider that most films are at most ninety minutes long right now, but you never feel bored or disconnected from the film despite the extensive run time. There’s always a sense of intrigue permeating from the characters and the story, whether it be in the sub-twists this film has to offer, or the intricacies of the character’s actions and how they relate to the rest of the movie.
The only problem I had with the duration of the film was that in two and a half hours it’s likely that a lot of people in the theatre will need the toilet, but by the time they decide that enough is enough and they really have to go, the film has moved into its final third and every moment is too important to miss. Obviously that’s not a criticism of the film, because it would be unfair to criticise a movie for being long when each individual moment pays off; the problem is just that this should probably be something a cinema accommodates for. A five minute interval in a film screening of this length would probably be a pretty good and practical idea, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been implemented yet.
I wasn’t completely thrilled by the ending of this movie, as (SPOILER ALERT), nothing was really resolved. Now from what I know, this is something that has been carried over from the book, and therefore I wouldn’t say that it is a very big criticism, because to alter the ending would probably have been met with outrage from fans. However, I think that this movie needed some sort of closure, particularly after the audience had watched it for a whole 150 minutes! There may not have been a truly compelling way to end this movie that was also believable, but I can think of one ending which would’ve been extremely satisfying.
Overall this is a fantastic movie with no weak performances, great direction, an intelligent and interesting story, and a brilliant tone. I can barely find anything to criticise that doesn’t belong to the realm of knit-picking, and I can’t think of another film in cinemas this year which I feel has been executed quite as impeccably as this one. Whether or not you enjoy the movie may depend partly on whether or not you buy into the story, and whether or not this film was the one you thought you’d be seeing, because the trailer isn’t really a true indication of what the film actually is. But that can’t be seen as a fault by the filmmakers, because this is just the aspect which makes the movie so good for the majority of the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed “Gone Girl”, and would pay to see it again right now. I truly believe that it deserves universal praise, and it will be hard for these actors to ever top their performances in this movie.