David Fincher’s Gone Girl weaves a great and entertaining game of marital back and forth, the only criticism I can really come up with against it is that it isn’t quite at the level of Fincher’s multiple masterpieces.
Now, that is a very high bar to hold Gone Girl to, I understand that and I am not even really holding that against the film, but you can’t help but have that feeling on the first viewing of a film by one of your absolute favorite filmmakers. Still, I was as thoroughly entertained watching Gone Girl as I was just about anything else I have seen this year, even if I knew a bit more than I was supposed to going into the film.
Following the search for the missing wife of Nick Dunne, a media maelstrom arises around the case as Nick’s missing wife was the inspiration for the international phenomenon of books, Amazing Amy. As the police and private investigations build suspicions on Nick, we reflect back on their marriage through Amy’s diary which really pushes our own suspicions of him.
Fincher’s film is, of course, expertly made, and as someone who grew up in Missouri I think he really nailed not only the setting, but the people as well. Everything felt authentic about Gone Girl and it is as gorgeously photographed as you expect from Fincher. Fincher has a way of making every house he shoots in seem glamorous, but by the end of Gone Girl he makes the Dunne home feel like a cage, a really beautiful and potentially dangerous cage. I think I almost take for granted how great Fincher and his team’s work is at this point, but this feels like their least stylized effort to date. Again, not a knock, you can only stylize southeast Missouri so much, but that reserved visual look might also contribute to some of my less than feelings compared to Fincher’s other works. But, again, the technical presentation here is as good as just about anything you stack up against it this year.
Technical merits aside, the story isn’t the visceral ride that you can get from Fincher either, but once it settles into the whole story, the back and forth is really fun to watch. The visceral moment of the film is something else though, and the imagery that it contributes to over the next ten minutes or so of the film is played pitch perfectly for the right amount of horror and comedy. Be ready to laugh with Gone Girl, the film’s strongest asset is that it is a dark comedy that takes a biting look at what really keeps some relationships together and for how over the top the film can get it is, scarily, only a dial notch or two off from some realities nowadays. You also have to really appreciate the jabs that Fincher and author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn take at the media and their blood thirst for blood lust, I almost wished we had more of this, even if they Nancy Grace rip off (a great Missi Pyle) was perfect. I also really appreciated everything Flynn/Fincher do with the unreliable narrator, well after the credits roll you will be trying to piece together what you actually just saw and I really think that will help the film coalesce on subsequent viewings.
Acting wise, the cast is great with a number of great roles for the women in the film. Rosamund Pike is delightful as Amy, as she gets to have a whole lot of fun as she has to go to some pretty fucked up places over the course of the film. I’ve been a fan of hers for years, hopefully everyone else will realize how great she is now. Carrie Coon continues to be one of my favorite discoveries of the year, she shines here as Nick’s sister, bringing a lot of levity to the film, but also being a fully realized and complex character on top of it all. Coon and Affleck’s chemistry is excellent and you could see yourself watching these two on screen siblings for a film entirely to themselves. Kim Dickens is also great as the police detective on the case, and she too just has a great presence every time she is in the room. Dickens also gets a lot of the humor in the film and she is an excellent straight man in the face of some of the lunacy that begins to unfold. Ben Affleck is a great every-man as Nick Dunne, but he really shines in the back half of the film as things get a lot more playful. Tyler Perry also deserves mention as he is fantastic as a potential lawyer for Dunne, while Neil Patrick Harris brings just the right balance of companion/creeper to the table. Scoot McNairy also drops in for one scene and kills it (because he is the man), but he was vital for turning the tide of the movie into one that you don’t know what you should be rooting for.
Gone Girl is a great and entertaining movie I would highly recommend to everyone. Yeah, my review has some reservations, but that is more my issues than anything. A great cast is game for everything Fincher and Flynn throw at them and the ride they’re on is as entertaining as just about anything you will see this year.