‘Gone Girl’ (2014) Movie Review

By: Mitch Burns

Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Directed By: David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club)

Starring:  Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Fugit, David Clennon, Lisa Banes, Missi Pyle, Emily Ratajkowski, Casey Wilson and Sela Ward.

Grade: A-

I don’t often start a review so utterly worried that I may spoil the movie at hand. I entered Gone Girl with a very clean slate, not knowing more than the basics, a man’s wife goes missing and he is a suspect.
I have not read the best selling novel of the same name, written by Gillian Flynn. I haven’t read a review, seen a trailer, or discussed the plot with anyone who knows it. This was an amazing way to experience Gone Girl, and while I’m aware many readers here will have seen the movie or read the book, this review is spoiler free.

The movie opens on the 5th year wedding anniversary of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) . A couple living in a beautiful house in Missouri town, hit hard by recession. Nick is part owner of a bar, aptly named “The Bar”, with his sister Margo Dunne (Carrie Coone). He arrives at the bar on the morning of his 5th wedding anniversary only to be called back to his home to fetch his cat; the cat has escaped out the open door of his home. Upon entering his house he notices signs of a struggle, an open door and a broken glass table, his wife Amy is nowhere to be found.

That’s about as much of a plot synopsis I feel like sharing, because as I’ve stated, going in with as little knowledge is better.
David Fincher and Gone Girl were the best match anyone could have imagined. The movie is deliberately paced, and while I think most audience members, including myself, will feel the 149 minute running time. The run time wasn’t ever bothersome, as the movie is so engrossing. Gone Girl is so clearly structured you can almost feel the film shifting into it’s 2nd and 3rd acts as they happen, and here that feels respectable.

Gone Girl is dark, more lurid than I could have expected. Maybe my expectations for the macabre should have been higher when looking at Fincher’s other works like Se7en and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The story at it’s core is about marriage, although I wouldn’t suggest it as a date movie.

Frankly, I had high hopes for Gone Girl, I was mostly resting those high hopes on Finchers shoulders. I’m definitely a “Fincher Fanboy”, I’ll even admit to enjoying Alien 3.  I was worried my high expectations would do me in, I almost hated the first ten to twenty minutes of this movie. I can’t fully explain why, but I was antsy, I couldn’t fully commit to liking the characters at first. The first act of the movie is pitted with flashbacks of Amy (Rosamund Pike) writing in her diary, and subsequently cutting to a scene of what she is currently writing about. I usually don’t like flashbacks, and they did annoy me at first, but they are almost essential here, allowing the audience to understand a portion of Nick & Amy’s relationship.

My trouble with the characters at the beginning of the movie can be linked their extreme authenticity. None of these characters are extremely likeable, but they are real and they are portrayed with skill. The actors were chosen perfectly, Fincher gets the best performance out of the entire cast, even Tyler Perry as Lawyer Tanner Bolt. It’s Rosamund Pike who knocks it out of the park, a performance worthy of nominations and praise. Affleck, The leading man, seems tailor made for the role, I’ve never seen Affleck perform better.  Carrie Coon as Margoe Dunne, Nick’s sister, and only ally, is magnificent, as well as Kim Dickens as lead detective Rhonda Boney.

The author of the bestselling novel Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, also acts as the screenwriter. You feel Fincher all over Gone Girl, but a lot of credit has to to Flynn for creating a story that so aptly taps into a variety of different viewpoints. The Media, Husband & Wife, a neighbourhood, family members and more are all represented here, and flynn brings depth to each character.

Gone Girl is a shocking roller coaster of emotion, tackling the good and bad sides of issues such as marriage, lies & deceit, the United States justice system, and the media. It is a polarizing movie, My wife, our friend, and I all greatly enjoyed the movie, while the elderly lady to our right said to her husband “Well that was stupid” as the end credits rolled, and the young couple to our right didn’t seemed too pleased either. The movie deserves it’s R rating, violence, language and nudity are quite present.

The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is something to be exalted, while at times it may feel overbearing, it usually fits the mood and adds to the creepiness of the film.

I would rank Gone Girl my top four Fincher films, and I would like to say the movies Oscar prospects are high, but The Academy may overlook it because of it’s violence and R rating. I could see a nomination for Affleck, if they were ever going to give him an acting nomination, it would be for this. A nomination for Rosamund Pike seems necessary.

Gone Girl is a film I don’t see myself rushing out to see immediately, only because I am still digesting it. I honestly can’t wait to see it again, because once you know the mystery and secrets at it’s core I’m sure it’s a different viewing experience. I’ve heard from many that reading the book before hand actually made for a great watch. Although at this moment, I’m recommending Gone Girl to anyone, those who’ve read the book or not, Fincher fan or not. Dig in and enjoy.

Thank you for reading,

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