Friday, October 03, 2014

GONE GIRL: The Film Babble Blog Review

Opening today at a multiplex near you...

GONE GIRL (Dir. David Fincher, 2014)

David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel is a great, gripping piece of cinema – one of the year’s best. It’s an immaculately crafted thriller that will throw you for many loops throughout its twisty narrative, while at the same time it provides a chilling commentary on the troubling impact of public perception, and how matrimony can drive one mad.

Ben Affleck, in perhaps his most layered performance, plays Nick Dunne, who finds on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary that his beautiful blonde Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing, and there’s a broken glass table and traces of blood around the house to suggest foul play.

Affleck calls the cops, and a pair of detectives, Kim Dickens (THE BLIND SIDE, Treme) and Patrick Fugit (ALMOST FAMOUS), begin investigating the disappearance. Through flashbacks we see the young couple in their early courtship as young idealistic magazine writers that are “so cute I want to punch us in the face,” as Pike puts it.

We learn that after the recession left them both jobless, the married couple moved to Affleck’s hometown of North Carthage, Missouri to help take care of his dying mother. Affleck opens a local bar with his twin sister (Carrie Coon) with Pike’s trust fund money, and teaches community college, while unhappy housewife Pike, heard in voiceover, details the deterioration of their marriage in her diary.

Led by Missi Pyle as a Nancy Grace-style cable TV pundit, the media scrutinize Affleck and Pike’s relationship, with suspicions from all quarters coming in that he’s responsible for her death, even though there’s been no body found.

There’s so many tasty twists that it would be wrong to go any deeper into the ins and outs of the plot, I’ll just say that halfway through this film’s two and a half hour running time you’ll get the first of several satisfying shockers.

As somebody who has been hated in real life (see: GIGLI), Affleck nails his part as the “a corn-fed, salt-of-the-earth Missouri boy” who’s grown cynical with his deer-in-the-headlights reaction to cameras at the first press conference and his nervousness towards the crowd at a candlelight vigil are dead-on. He pulls off the attempts to take control of the situation with mighty aplomb as well.

Pike, who should be a household name after her sharply focused work here, gives us a character with whom we initially trust and sympathize, but the more we learn, the less we like.

But as Affleck and Pike are perfectly cast, so are Tyler Perry (yes, that Tyler Perry) as a slick Johnny Cochran-ish lawyer, Neil Patrick Harris as a creepy ex-boyfriend of Pike’s, and Casey Wilson (SNL, Happy Endings) as a ditzy neighbor claiming to be Pike’s best friend, and David Clennon and Lisa Barnes as Pike’s rich parents who had co-authored a series of childrens’ books inspired by their daughter (“Amazing Amy”).

Author Flynn has refashioned her novel into the film’s sprawling yet concise screenplay, which is laced with wicked wit, as well as some grotesque touches that moviegoers won’t soon forget. Fincher’s procedural skills have been well honed in films such as SE7EN and ZODIAC, and they’re on vivid and immersive display here.

GONE GIRL is Fincher’s best film since 2010’s THE SOCIAL NETWORK (his 2011 version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGO TATTOO wasn’t bad; just a bit redundant, since the Swedish original pretty much covered it), and it’s the most solid, intelligent thriller I’ve seen in years.

Its haunting ending had me trembling, and thinking, even though I know my marriage (coincidentally also at the five year mark) is on much better ground than theirs, that I should better watch my step.

More later...

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