By Michael Arruda
I had originally planned to review GONE GIRL solo for Cinema Knife Fight and post the review here on this blog as well, but then L.L. Soares decided he’d like to see the movie too, since he’s a big fan of director David Fincher, and so we reviewed the movie as a Cinema Knife Fight column, which will be posted this weekend.
However, I had penciled in today’s date as the time I would post the GONE GIRL review on this blog. To honor that schedule, and to avoid spoiling our Cinema Knife Fight column, I’ve decided to post an abbreviated review of GONE GIRL.
Be sure to check out the more extensive review after midnight on Sunday October 12 at cinemaknifight.com.
GONE GIRL is director David Fincher’s latest movie, the story of a man whose wife disappears under suspicious circumstances, and as a result, he becomes the prime suspect in the crime.
The movie opens with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) visiting his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) at The Bar, a bar which the two of them own, and over a drink they commiserate over Nick’s wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), so right off the bat we get the sense that all is not well with Nick and his wife.
When Nick returns home, he finds that his wife is not there, and there’s a glass table that has been knocked over and shattered, and it’s just weird enough to raise a red flag. Nick calls the police, and responding to the call are Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit). When they discover traces of blood at the scene, Boney calls in her crime unit, and when word gets out that Amy has disappeared under suspicious circumstances, and Nick seems to be overly relaxed in front of the media, the accusations begin to fly.
The question on everyone’s mind is: where is Amy Dunne, and did Nick kill her or didn’t he? And that’s as far as I want to go in discussing the plot, because the less said about the plot of GONE GIRL the better.
Ben Affleck is very good here as Nick Dunne in an understated performance. Affleck portrays Nick as man who doesn’t always react in the way others think he should, and it’s difficult to gauge whether he’s being manipulative or simply boneheaded. As a result, he’s always on the defensive, and the media eats him alive.
The best performance in the movie belongs to Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne. I’ve seen Pike in other movies, but this might be my favorite role of hers so far. Pike makes Amy an even more complicated and intricate character than her husband. They are one of the more intriguing movie couples I’ve seen in a while.
Nearly as good as Affleck and Dunne is Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister Margo. Margo is the one who seems to have a level head on her shoulders, and she is constantly trying to help her brother, but it’s a frustrating and losing battle as she’s out of her league when dealing with the likes of Amy and her brother. Coon is terrific in the role.
Kim Dickens makes Detective Rhonda Boney a refreshingly smart character not bound by the clichés of the police detectives in the movies. She actually shows a lot of restraint when the media has already tried and convicted Nick, but she refuses to arrest him until she finds more evidence.
One of the best things about GONE GIRL is that three of the best characters in the movie, in terms of acting and writing, are women. This doesn’t happen in the movies very often.
Tyler Perry makes his mark as hotshot defense attorney Tanner Bolt, and like Detective Boney, Attorney Bolt is not your typical cliché movie lawyer. He finds the whole story of Nick and Amy fascinating and seems entertained by the whole ordeal, and while he continually gives Nick solid and truthful counsel, you get the feeling he’d rather be booking his client on an episode of Dr. Phil.
Neil Patrick Harris plays Desi Collings, a man from Amy’s past, who she once accused of stalking her. He plays a key role in the story, and Harris does a nice job making him weird and sad at the same time.
GONE GIRL is an exceptionally well-made movie by director David Fincher. He’s made a lot of movies, and GONE GIRL ranks near the top.
Fincher also serves as Executive Producer to the hit TV show HOUSE OF CARDS on Netflix, and I saw some similarities between the powerful political couple on HOUSE OF CARDS played by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, and Nick and Amy in this movie. They’re obviously quite different characters in terms of personalities and social status, but they both share an almost pathological obsession with their mates which transcend the usual boundaries for husbands and wives in television and the movies. Nick and Amy are like Francis and Claire Underwood without the political ambitions and with more time on their hands.
GONE GIRL is a very dark movie that will make you feel like you need a shower to wash off the grime once you leave the theater. There is one very shocking brutal scene that is more disturbing than the majority of “shock” scenes usually found in the traditional Hollywood horror movie.
The film boasts an excellent screenplay by Gillian Flynn, based on her novel of the same name. The characters are fleshed out, and even better, the plot is refreshingly original and keeps you guessing all the way to the end.
GONE GIRL is an intensely satisfying movie that works on nearly every level, and if you prefer dark movies, you’ll especially love this one.
—Remember to check out the full Cinema Knife Fight review at cinemanknifefight.com this weekend!—