Film Review – Gone Girl
Fincher, you done did it again.
Kicking off the most prestigious of movie seasons in a particularly devilish manner, David Fincher‘s Gone Girl may be his most assured work to date. And that’s saying something. An adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s insanely popular book (you might recognize it from every bus ride you’ve taken in the last two years), it also credits her as the sole screenwriter, allowing her to take certain liberties without outraging her legions. If that whole living under a rock thing prevented you from reading it yourself, allow me to summarize. Very, very carefully.
Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, distant husband to titular gone girl Amy (a savagely wonderful Rosamund Pike). On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary Nick returns home to a destroyed living room and a missing wife. Although he immediately calls the police to report her disappearance, there’s something a little..off about his demeanor. Is he distraught enough? Detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) are quick to remind the audience that everyone deals with potentially devastating situations in different ways, but Nick’s apparent eagerness to assist is thrown off balance by his perpetual almost-smirk. When evidence starts to emerge in the form of blood spatter and diary entries, Nick wisens/lawyers up but will the media drive him to madness before he sees trial?
I’m only scratching the surface here but there are many surprises to be had, some of which call into question much of what we thought we knew. Unreliable narration can be a fickle bitch when not deployed properly but David Fincher, unsurprisingly, handles it with aplomb. He’s also managed to deliver perhaps the funniest murder mystery I’ve ever seen. Putting the paparazzi under a microscope is nothing new but rarely is it this darkly hilarious. And the casting choices are utterly sublime. Who better to portray a man this ravaged by public scrutiny than Ben Affleck, after all? Rosamund Pike, meanwhile, gives the trickiest performance of all. Inspiring sympathy in one scene and vitriol in the next, her depiction of Amy is not to be forgotten, and surely won’t be come Oscar season.
Also along for the ride is Neil Patrick Harris as Desi, Amy’s exceptionally creepy ex-lover. When Nick spots him early on volunteering at a search party we’re suspicious right along with him and that’s before he’s even delivered a line. Also joining the party are Carrie Coon (excellent as Nora on HBO‘s The Leftovers) as Nick’s twin sister and none other than Tyler Perry as hotshot defense lawyer Tanner Bolt. Now, long-time MacGuffin readers may recall my tearing down of Perry in the stinker that is Alex Cross, but I’m here to tell you that he is, wait for it, superb. Not only that but he gets by far the best line of the movie. Popping up in smaller roles are Missi Pyle as a Nancy Grace-like TV host intent on exploiting every gruesome detail she can obtain and Happy Endings‘ own Casey Wilson as an eager-to-assist neighbor. Unorthodox choices for such a grim tale, maybe, but it further goes to show Fincher’s keen eye for performances.
There was a lot of internet rabble rousing about whether or not Flynn changed the book’s ending and, if so, to what degree. I will not reveal what, if anything, has changed because 1) my internet license would be revoked and 2) it should be experienced firsthand. Welcome to the first great movie of the fall.