Gone Girl

by | Nov 21, 2014 | 0 comments

Fincher Does It Yet Again With Another Book Adaptation

There are few directors that can play with an audience’s mind with as much skill as David Fincher. Fincher along with Christopher Nolan is part of a rare breed of directors. They are storytellers that create extremely high expectations with every movie that they premiere. If the expectations are not met, then their careers could suffer fatally, similar Orson Welles’ tragic dismay. Welles started out with astounding films like The Third Man and Citizen Kane; the bar was set so high in expectations that when his following films failed to deliver, Welles disappeared into history. Fincher and Nolan’s reputation is so high right now that a fall may cripple any chances of a resurgence. However, Fincher’s latest film Gone Girl, already in some dangerous heights, passed the test and even heightened Fincher’s reputation.

Fincher’s greatest achievement for this film was getting Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn to adapt the book for the screen. The greatest sin of book to film adaptations is that much of the story is dropped in the transition. Some directors try to solve such a problem by hiring the author of the original book to be the screenwriter, but almost always the problem is that authors don’t know how to write a script, they’re novelists! I don’t know how Flynn did it, but she seemed to have an expert hand with her book adaptation, and part of the blame must go to Fincher who almost always co-writes on his films. But then again we mustn’t underappreciate Flynn’s skill; she might be one of the few authors that actually knows her book. It is because of this that the film is able to cut parts from the book that the reading audience is able to accept; it helps the story take on a cinematic look with a smooth narration. And this smoothness makes the twists and jerks in the story feel more violent and deep.

Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne. They are a married couple whom were once successful New York authors, but the recent economic recession forced them to relocate in Nick’s hometown in Mississippi. On the day of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy (Rosamund Pike) disappears. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes back home to an overturned table and a blood-specked kitchen. Nick calls the police who launch an investigation, headed by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens). The audience is left completely in the dark. We see two conflicting stories of Amy and Nick’s relationship. Amy speaks through her diary, and we hear Nick’s account at the police station. Both the police and the audience are in such suspicion that we begin to fear whether Nick is responsible of his wife’s disappearance. Nick is forced to hire lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), as things begin to snarl up: Amy’s old friends begin to appear (Neil Patrick Harris among the most dodgy), and no one has any idea who did what.

The film’s best aspect is undoubtedly its story; Flynn does an Oscar-worthy job. The jumps between Nick and Amy’s narrative are flawless, and the leaps from the past to the present of Nick and Amy’s history never lose us.

Fincher’s direction is spectacular; his way to reveal the story’s twists and turns, and connect them all with his logic is only something that the greats do. Fincher’s handling of the script, actors, and camera works in such a way that Gone Girl competes against Fincher’s best film Fight Club for the best set of images this auteur has given us.

As for the acting, who could guess that both Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike had this in them? Affleck is in his best role in years, he masterfully handles the threats and desperation that his character feels as the tension surmounts, probably since Affleck might be able to relate to his character. Affleck suffered greatly from drug use in the 90s and had tabloids dismembering him, his relationships were quick and crippling and the actor was on the verge of total anguish. His renaissance after meeting and marrying Jennifer Garner has led him to rise back through the Hollywood ranks to the point of winning an Oscar for his film Argo in 2012. Now his acting capabilities have been reestablished and his star power is once again glowing. Pike reminds me of Bruce Dern’s career turn last year in Nebraska. Dern and Pike were both actors that were constantly shunned to the side and always played the protagonist’s friend or the evil henchman (or henchwoman). When both Dern and Pike were given a chance to take on a titular role, they both devoured their character and exploded on screen with such a presence that it made all the other directors who had cast them down to look down in shame. Pike plays Amy in the flashbacks and her cool voice showers over us from her diary. The two actors meld spectacularly so that they truly become the Dunnes. There are meanwhile some very smart performances from Kim Dickens, who plays Detective Rholand with a witty snappiness and whipping observation. Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry both shine as well as they take on much darker characters than their usual comedic ones; they clearly show us through this their true acting capabilities, it might be time to give them a titular role as well.

The technical aspects are all pristine, the cinematography is dominating; the sound mixing is captivating; and the costume and production design is just the right amount of spooky. But certainly the one aspect that I don’t want to leave unnoticed is the music. Well, it can be argued that it isn’t music at all, rather more of a spa-like tingling of instruments. And you know this movie is a Fincher film when the spa music does anything but relax you.   

Gone Girl might turn out to be the film of the year; it will undoubtedly be on the Oscar radar. The rebirth of Affleck’s acting career and the revelation of Pike’s talent are just a couple of the reasons why this movie is this year’s must-see.



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