Let’s get something straight before you guys tear my head off, okay? I love David Fincher. He is one of the five best directors working today. There is maybe…maybe…one or two other directors alive that possess the same skill, vision, patience, and attention to detail he does. His scenes are practically Kubrickian. No shot in a Fincher film is pointless or a happy accident. His films seem to always have the texture and feel of a well crafted graphic novel. That being said…Gone Girl isn’t really about him. In fact, Gone Girl isn’t exactly an amazing masterpiece. Hell, it might be my least favorite of his films. Gone Girl is, at best, a solid mystery turned thriller that doesn’t quite stick the landing. Now, that is not because of Fincher in my opinion. Yes, he is still at his directorial best here. The detail, the delivery, the decision making, all still there and all still top notch. As I watched the film, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Gone Girl’s story was just a bit beneath him. It’s a story that we have seen done a thousand times before, either on Lifetime, NBC, or over ten years ago in theaters with actress Ashley Judd. The film even takes the time to make a Law & Order joke to point out how familiar of a story it is. It’s a story that Fincher could direct in his sleep. Short of an amazingly shot sequence involving a sex scene gone wrong, Fincher doesn’t really get to flex his directing muscles as much as they have been in any of his other films. No, if you really want a reason to see Gone Girl…if you really want to know what the brightest light shining from this film is, I’ll tell you. It’s the Gone Girl herself, Rosamund PIKE.
Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne. A seemingly happy couple suddenly torn apart by the disappearance and possible murder of Amy Dunne. To be fair, I am coming to you as someone who has not read the novel by Gillian Flynn. So, whatever liberties Fincher has taken with the material, I am not aware of. I wanted to just watch this film in a vacuum and glean what I could from the overall message. A message, which might be either the biggest “F%#k You!” to marriage I’ve seen in a film since The War Of The Roses, a commentary that the secrets we keep from those we love will inevitable imprison or kill us, or a warning to be careful of those you love because they could actually be capable of unspeakable things. In any case, these are not new topics or even a different way to look at these topics. What stands out to me is the way this story is delivered to us by its stars.
Ben Affleck is solid as the almost too perfect husband with a secret, but admittedly, he plays the part almost the same as the one he had in American remake of State Of Play a few years back. The exchanges between Affleck’s character Nick and his sister Margo, played exceptionally well by actress Carrie Coon, are the only times where Ben seems to show us something new. Neil Patrick Harris and Kim Dickens are a little bit on the nose with their showings, but are still entertaining. Tyler Perry’s role as the Johnny Cochrane-esque defense attorney Tanner Bolt was even well done and fitting. (Perry actually has my favorite line of the film.) But at the end of the day, the reason anyone will remember Gone Girl is Rosamund PIKE’s performance.
|Happy Wife, Happy Life Indeed|
It is not just the fact that she out acts each person she’s in a scene with, which she does. It’s the manner in how PIKE does it. It is never over the top or cliche. It’s acting without “acting”. It’s the wheels turning behind her eyes, the growing coldness and subtle craftiness in her narration, the calm command in which she confronts her marriage and the direction her life takes. The way she emotes her anguish, fear, and anger through a glance or a smile or a gesture. Rosamund Pike delivers something here that truly should be seen and hopefully will be honored. Much like Affleck’s character, I didn’t see it coming.
I am going to keep this review short to avoid spoiling Gone Girl any more than I already have. The one thing that I hope I get across is that it is not a bad film, but not a groundbreaking masterpiece as some might lead you to believe. The situation that happens near the end of the film is the most interesting direction the story takes in my opinion, but we only get about 10 minutes of it. I have no doubt that once you see Gone Girl, the brilliance of Rosamund PIKE’s performance will be the main thing that will stick with you. Fincher’s always terrific, yet, somewhat untested direction in it will be second. The story itself will be a distant third. Wipe that sugar off your lip…don’t leave your Mountain Dew unattended…know your spouse’s bloodtype….watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.