Director: David Fincher
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens, Missi Pyle, Sela Ward
When I heard that David Fincher was going to tackle the big screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s hot bestseller Gone Girl, I knew that he was the perfect choice. I have proclaimed my love and adoration for the guy many times before. With films like Zodiac, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Se7en under his belt, he has tackled his fair share of thrillers, mysteries, and devious crimes. Amy (Pike) and Nick (Affleck) Dunne seem like the perfect couple. They are smart, creative, attractive, and live in a wealthy neighborhood. She grew up in the spotlight, as she was the subject of her parents’s “Amazing Amy” children’s books. The fictional Amy was always one step ahead of the real life inspiration.
One their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick stops home and discovers their glass coffee table has been shattered, and Amy is nowhere to be found. Her disappearance causes a media frenzy that shakes the neighborhood, and Nick becomes the number one suspect. Press conferences, continuing police interrogation, and a candle light vigil continue to put Nick in the spotlight even though he claims he had nothing to due with Amy’s disappearance. The only people he feels like he can trust are his sister Margo (Coon) and his hot shot lawyer Tanner Bolt (Perry).
If you have read Flynn’s novel, you know it is a juicy pager turner. It will be a relief to any moviegoer to know that she also wrote the screenplay, so you can trust that it’s a faithful adaptation. Even down to the structure of how the book is laid out, the film stays true to that without feeling like it’s been compromised for a different medium. From the outside, you may think this seems like your standard murder mystery. She is cunning in that just when you think you’ve got it figured it, she flips the whole story on its head and takes it to a whole different dimension, much like the marriage of the main two characters. I read the book some time ago, so some of the more minute details were not as fresh on my mind when watching the movie. Despite knowing the major twists and turns she takes us on, I was still hooked and drawn in as if I was watching this all unfold for the first time.
I would assume with her involvement in the movie, she was fairly particular with who would be directing the film. David Fincher’s last film was the adaptation of the bestselling mystery The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He has become the master at these types of pulsating thrillers that wrestle inside of you. He has a way of digging deep into something and finding a layer that rumbles deep within. If you saw The Social Network, you know that it’s more than just some movie about Facebook. He can take a novel like Gone Girl and shape it into something that’s more than a bedside page-turner. Part of this comes from his use of the media and how it plays out like an integral character in the movie. Fincher really drives home the power that the media and various news outlets can have on a crime as shocking and mysterious as the disappearance of Amy. Immediately Nick becomes the target of a Nancy Grace type news reporter played by Missi Pyle (The Artist, Big Fish). Cameras, news vans, and hoards of people station themselves in front of Nick’s home watching his every move. It’s a powerful commentary on this sensation that we live in a 24-hour news society. You see very easily how the citizens react and trust anything that they hear in the news. Nick’s interview with another reporter (Ward) is expertly crafted to show him in just the right light in hopes of winning back the people’s support.
Fincher continues his collaboration with composers Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor who won the Oscar for their score to The Social Network. Their music here may be their most subtle work to date. It rests in the background perfectly complimenting each scene without ever feeling that it’s taking over the scene itself. Only in the film’s more shocking moments does it ring out loud and clear like a Bernard Hermann score.
Whoever doubted Fincher’s casting of either Rosamund Pike or Ben Affleck or even Tyler Perry (yes, Madea himself) should remember to trust all of his casting decisions. He likes casting unknown actresses or actresses that don’t come with a background of work that we may stereotype them for. You may have seen Pike as a Bond girl in Die Another Day or in The World’s End, but she isn’t a huge household name yet. Here’s hoping she is the talk of the awards season as she gives a dynamic performance that will be one of the best of the year. Amy Dunne is such a rich and complex character. I would hate to spoil too much by talking about the ins and outs of her character, but Pike digs deep into the soul and psychological depth of Amy that starts to unfold in the movie. Affleck gives one of the best performances of his career. Fincher cast him due to his relationship with the media and the scrutiny he is under being part of a Hollywood power couple. There are stereotypes and visions we have of Affleck that are brought on by the media that work in conjunction with his character. Affleck keeps Nick guarded and on the verge of being unreliable. He’s always playing and toying with the idea of whether or not Nick is a bad guy. He isn’t the weeping and inconsolable husband when Amy goes missing, but does that automatically make him guilty?
Fincher is known to be a meticulous director often demanding an abundance of takes and a sharp look at every piece of the puzzle. With a film like this, you have to have a detail-oriented craftsman in charge. Flynn’s novel is a winding road of twists and turns taking the audience on a very specific journey. You have to know what you are doing in order to stay ahead of the audience. Fincher’s eye and ways of working with his actors keeps us in the palm of his hand. We continue to second-guess who’s in charge in this he said/she said world. We grow to question, not just the characters of Amy and Nick, but of those others around them as to whether they are allies or enemies. Gone Girl is another homerun for David Fincher. It has a high place on my best of the year list, and I cannot wait to see it again.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Absolutely. I don’t think they could have made a better adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel.
RATING: 5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS