Monday, October 6, 2014

Movie with Abe: Gone Girl

Gone Girl
Directed by David Fincher
Released October 3, 2014

More than one person I’ve spoken to has associated “Gone Girl” with another Ben Affleck film with a similar title, “Gone Baby Gone.” To be fair, both films have to do with an Affleck brother searching for a missing female, the circumstances of whose disappearance turn out to be far more complicated and sinister than initially expected. In the case of the 2007 film, Ben was behind the camera for the first time and his brother Casey was the star. Now, the elder Affleck steps in front of the camera to play the lead of David Fincher’s film adapted by Gillian Flynn from her 2012 novel. Unfortunately, “Gone Baby Gone” is the far superior film.

Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, who becomes a major figure in the news media when his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing. It is clear from how Nick speaks to his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), that he does not hold Amy in high regard, and when her parents show up to try to bring national attention to her disappearance, Nick’s lack of emotion stands out and makes him the prime suspect. It is also obvious that a number of things about Amy’s disappearance and the events that led up to it don’t add up, and the film slowly unfurls the truth, sprinkling bits of information as it goes on to create a fuller picture of the Dunne marriage at its core.

“Gone Girl” should probably be classified as a drama, since though it is layered with mystery and intrigue, nothing happens quickly or suddenly. Fincher is no stranger to long films, and here he has the chance to really flesh out the details once again. When a game-changing revelation is made, it is presented bluntly and not forcefully, merely another detail of the story to be factored in. At times, that style works to the film’s advantage, but more often than not it makes it hard to take at face value since its twists seem too monumental to be simply stated and showcased. The story itself is particularly grim and unpleasant, though I doubt that Flynn’s novel, which I have not read, is any easier to digest.

Affleck has a certain charisma that makes him a great leading man, but it’s not in a role like this. He gives his all to the film’s weightier moments but phones in the rest of his performance. Pike, an actress who has stood out in supporting roles in films like “Made in Dagenham", commits to and delivers in the role of Amy, a far more complex person than the ideal wife on the missing poster. Neil Patrick Harris is a strange choice to play a suspicious ex-boyfriend of Amy’s, while an equally odd choice, Tyler Perry, proves to be just the right fit as the lawyer who eagerly accepts the challenge of defending Nick. The real standout of the cast is Coon from “The Leftovers” as Margo, energetically infusing unfiltered commentary and sass into a character who could have been forgettable had the performance not been as fiery or impassioned. The story as a whole can best be described as oft-putting, and some elements translate to the screen better than others. Overall, it’s an experience that verges on suspenseful and compelling but isn’t nearly even enough to achieve that effect.


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