Movie Review: ‘Gone Girl’ Dark Detachment At Its Finest

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Cole Clay // Critic

our rating: ☆☆☆½

our rating: ☆☆☆½

GONE GIRL is wonderfully unambitious by David Fincher’s standards. Although it’s not out of the realm of what the director has accomplished in his now 22-year (filmmaking) career, proving that he is a perceptive director who can successfully develop a few of the most celebrated novels (FIGHT CLUB, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) that are rooted with social and psychological implications. Each of his films maintained a similar discourse covering tales of revenge, obsession and disintegrating marriages that are echoed across his filmography.

Penned by GONE GIRL’s author, Gillian Flynn, fans of the novel have celebrated the script which creates page-turning dialogue that falls in line with the book’s acclaimed sensibilities. GONE GIRL is a film that has a slow-beating pulse, and even if Fincher is slumming it, he did it with a style that is congruent to his talents as one of the preeminent modern directors.

GONE GIRL revolves around the model couple Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) whose marriage is falling apart at the seams and the media circus that falls in line with the Amy’s disappearance. The two who were once in love are victims of the once monetarily sound post baby-boomer generation recovering from the 2008 financial fallout. The lovers are fated with several problems that are dissected, but what we don’t know is exactly who is to blame and that works to the favor protecting the veil of mystery that is posed in this battle of the sexes.

The film will undoubtedly give the novel a slew of readers who aren’t familiar with the story of Nick and Amy, but the film handles the material to lean in the favor of Affleck notably in moments of flashbacks. This also calls back to Fincher’s casting, which impeccably treats the leading man in a fashion that parallels his likable public persona. Both Affleck and Pike narrate the film, but which one is actually reliable? GONE GIRL is inherently a mystery and in no way uses that as a crutch to propel the narrative of the film.

Ben Affleck stars in GONE GIRL. Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Ben Affleck stars in GONE GIRL. Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

GONE GIRL punctuates the elaborate ruse the media has over the world, by swaying millions of delusional viewers stuck in-front of the boob tube. This point is anchored by Ellen Abbot, (Missi Pyle) a Nancy Grace in a satirical yet accurate turn of events. She brings on legal analyst Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) who successfully campaigns to be Dunne’s lawyer, for a $100,000 retainer of course. Flynn’s script illustrates the fiscal issues couples face by using techniques that don’t patronize or pass judgement.

Perry settles into becoming a shifty side character who coaches Nick through the process of making himself more likable to the public given the fact that he is seen and later ridiculed on national television for taking a selfie with a housewife. It’s not clear if Bolt is genuine in his attempts to sway the media in Nick’s favor, or if he is using the PR firestorm to forge his own likeness in the public eye. Either way, Perry by some random stroke of genius creates a stellar case for him to appear in more films of this caliber.

Nick and Amy’s have distanced themselves from their past transgressions, except for Desi Collings (in a carefully creepy performance by Neil Patrick Harris), a past suitor of Amy’s whom she met while in prep school. Collings is a wrench thrown into the chain of events and somehow has always been waiting in the wings if/when Nick and Amy parted ways. Margo (Carrie Coon), Nick’s twin sister fills the role as his drinking buddy. She balances the film and provides a beam of light in an otherwise gloomy canvas. There are several pawns riddled through the fabric of GONE GIRL’s narrative all serving a purpose for the film’s thesis.

You can also check out Fresh Fiction’s Shellie Surles’ book review of GONE GIRL by clicking (here).

GONE GIRL slyly suggests whose side we are supposed to be on; however
he creates a subjective atmosphere that doesn’t tell us where to point the finger. We are likely to see cause polarizing reactions as some may have disdain for the supposed misogyny that lies within subtext and others will praise the film strictly because it’s David Fincher. GONE GIRL takes a subversive approach to the world’s obsession with voyeurism, which isn’t always a charming topic to discuss, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring.

GONE GIRL opens tomorrow.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.