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

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.