[Last Film I Saw] Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl poster

Title: Gone Girl
Year: 2014
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Gillian Flynn
Music:
Trent Reznor
Atticus Ross
Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth
Cast:
Ben Affleck
Rosamund Pike
Carrie Coon
Kim Dickens
Neil Patrick Harris
Tyler Perry
Patrick Fugit
David Clennon
Lisa Banes
Missi Pyle
Emily Ratajkowski
Casey Wilson
Scoot McNairy
Lola Kirke
Boyd Holbrook
Sela Ward
Rating: 8.4/10

GONE GIRL finally arrives in the cinema here, so what could be more appropriate than Fincher’s vastly anticipated and razor-sharp dissection of modern marriage/relationship for a Halloween night? The aftermath of this trendsetting thriller can impact abidingly on one’s memory not only for its plot twist but also a brave ending which dares to defy the accepted mode of “perpetrator gets punished in the end”, and intrigues viewers to inspect our own quotidian bearings and give an inscrutable glimpse to our partner.

Adapted from Gillian Flynn’s bestseller of the same name, who is also the sole person credited for the screenplay here, so it secures there is no creative discordance as far as the storyline is concerned. GONE GIRL is already Fincher’s highest grossing film in North America, surpasses THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (2008)’s $127 millions record. It is also Fincher’s third collaboration with Trent Reznor (from Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Boss, after THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010) and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011). Prominently the duo’s droning score conjures up an underplayed perturbing ambience which sits perfectly along Fincher’s aloof palette and the central performances from Affleck and Pike.

First of all, if you haven’t read the book, don’t be misguided by the trailer, which clearly shows a decaying body of Amy (Pike) and promptly leads us on another route, so the rest of the review is full of spoilers. Nick Dunne (Affleck) is the husband, a seemingly attractive guy, a professor in the college and not particularly ambitious, ordinary to say the most, but deep down he is a major disappointment to his wife Amy, who is a bestseller writer of THE AMAZING AMY series, they ditched their posh life in NYC to Missouri, to take care of Nick’s cancer-ridden mother, but after she passed away, they are also stranded there, like their marriage and their financial situation.

In order to set up the false appearance of being murdered by her husband on their anniversary with the six-week pregnancy, Amy starts her meticulous scheming to start afresh at the expense of Nick’s doom. Once we know the plan (which is surprisingly disclosed in the midstream), her outright malignancy is appalling, although Nick’s good husband facade has dissolved quite conveniently for adultery and emotional detachment, but this qualifies for a death penalty. The second half kick-starts a dual storyline which outpaces the normal police procedural, in one hand, Nick is fried by media and police, lead by detective Rhonda (Dickens), to get rid of his suspicion, aided by his twin sister Margo (Coon) and a well-known lawyer Tanner Bolt (Perry), he realises what Amy has done to frame him. In a game-changing crunch, Nick puts on his best performance to be the one Amy always wants him to be in a talk-show to easily win back the trust of populace (the satire is brilliantly on the nose!), also the belated admiration of Amy, now as a spectator in front of the TV.

In the other hand, Amy’s post-crime story is also tortuous and remarkably startling, to disguise herself from being recognised, she gains some weight, wears shabby clothes with self-inflicted bruise on the face, maintains in a low-profile life but one small hiccup leads to the quandary of being penniless, but the amazing Amy will not give up, resorts to her ex-bf, Desi Collings (Harris), she is hidden in his posh lake house under surveillance, it seems to be a perfect place for Amy to stay with a man who is unconditionally obsessed with her. Just one thing, Desi is a control freak, and so is Amy, who cannot allow herself deprived of the power of command, Desi must be dispatched and in the arresting third act, Amy returns as a victim kidnapped by Desi, Amy and Nick becomes the most likeable couple thanks to the media frenzy, and both agree to keep up the appearance after Amy comes clean to him about what she has done. The coda touches on a tangible thrill of distrust and creepiness, Nick decides to stay in the marriage and ignores the elephant in the room.

Affleck’s often lukewarm body language and in lack of facial expressions gives Nick the authenticity of being indolent and insensitive, Fincher brings out his best performance, he is dampening down all the trappings of being a man of intelligence, but in the key scenes when he is elicited to talk to Amy on the national TV, he knows he enjoys the game, and he is good at the game too, from then on, he turns from a victim to a matchable gamer, which also attributes to Amy’s decision to come back.

Pike is the film’s overt MVP, finally grabs a meaty career-defining role and a leading lady status more than 10 years after her big screen debut in 007’s DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002), the role also demands a transformation of her appearance, but her versatility between an icy queen and a threatening psychopath is the actual calling card for her very first Oscar nomination, and it is a much more complicated and deadly villain than her Oscar precedents such as Kathy Bates in MISERY (1990) or Louise Fletcher in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975). She is mysteriously dangerous because she could appear nearer than one can imagine.

The rest of the cast is all bells and whistles, only Carrie Coon (from THE LEFTOVER series) may have a shot for an Oscar nomination thanks to the tacit closeness between her and Affleck (they are twins in the film albeit a 9-year-old age discrepancy), plus the film is a major topical movie right now, if the momentum stays, she can sneak in the race; the same cannot be said to Kim Dickens, this very underrated character actress is also remarkable as the tough detective, but she is wanting an Oscar-inviting showpiece to solidify her qualification.

Fincher is red-hot now and it is respectable he doesn’t pander for some Academy-friendly material to secure his trophy, instead, he keeps making films of his gusto with astonishing precision, and I cannot wait to watch this film again, in DVD or BluRay for sure, because in Egypt, the censorship has cut all the sex and gory scenes, which for a purist as myself, it is utterly frustrating.

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