Monday, October 13, 2014
Directed by David Fincher and written by Gillian Flynn that is based on her novel, Gone Girl is the story of a man who becomes part of a media circus as he is a suspect in the disappearance of his wife. The film is an exploration into the world of marriage as well as revelations about that world where a man is being questioned about her whereabouts. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry, Patrick Fugit, Emily Ratajkowski, Missi Pyle, Scoot McNairy, and Neil Patrick Harris. Gone Girl is a chilling and evocative film from David Fincher.
It’s the day of the fifth anniversary of a couple when a husband learns his wife has suddenly disappeared as he is later questioned into her whereabouts. That is sort of what the film is about as it’s really more of a study of marriage as it’s being viewed under a microscope by the media, a small community in Missouri, and the authorities. It’s a story that is told from many different perspectives as the life of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) starts to unravel due to not just his behavior in having to do with his wife’s disappearance but also about himself. Especially as it relates to the events in how Nick met Amy Elliot (Rosamund Pike) where they fell in love and got married until their marriage unraveled due to financial issues as well as the move from New York City to a small town in Missouri so that Nick could take care of his ailing mother. Once things about Nick’s life begins to emerge in the wake of the search for Amy, a media circus would come in to pick apart every piece of his life.
Gillian Flynn’s screenplay isn’t just this very intriguing study of marriage but also into a world where it plays into the ways a marriage can disintegrate as it’s told from not just Nick’s perspective but also through Amy from her own diary. While much of the mystery and speculation covers much of the film’s first act and parts of second act where it plays into any kind of suspicion of whether Nick had something to do with Amy’s disappearance. Especially as Nick is known to be frustrated with the marriage as it was later revealed that he was having an affair with a college student (Emily Ratajkowski) which only made him look worse in front of the media and the authorities led by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and her partner Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit). With only his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) on his side where they get the services of notorious defense attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry).
Much of the story’s approach to knowing what is going on showcases a world where many questions come into play about not just if Nick really did anything to Amy but also what might have drove Amy to antagonize Nick. While the script does manage to make the film be about Nick and Amy, the supporting characters in Boney, Margo, and Bolt are very compelling as Boney is just someone who is an authority figure that wants to give Nick a fair chance while Bolt is a complex individual who may be involved in Nick’s case for publicity but knows how to help him amidst the storm of controversy from the media. Then there’s Margo as she is the film’s conscience as she is someone who admittedly never liked Amy as she also scolds Nick for his affair yet is willing to defend him despite all of the shit they would go through. Adding to the genius of the film’s script is its dialogue where a lot of it has a sense of rhythm where it can play into many clues but also has some moments that are very funny which gives the film a sense of black comedy to something that is already dark.
David Fincher’s direction is truly intoxicating in the way he can create something set in a mundane small town in Missouri yet make it feel like it’s a world where there is a lot to be said. Not just in some of the compositions he creates but also in its mood where it starts off like any typical day where Nick takes out the garbage in suburbia and then drives to a bar to chat with his sister on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary. Then the film takes on a very dark mood while it gets inter-cut with these flashbacks of how Nick and Amy met where the latter is the daughter of a couple of authors who has created a series of children’s books based on Amy. Much of these flashbacks in New York City showcased a time where they were happy and quite playful but once the money starts to go away and they were forced to move to Missouri where Nick could be close to his family. Things do get dark as much of Fincher’s approach to drama does become intensified with his approach to intimate compositions and framing devices.
Once the film progresses into the second and third act, there is an element of satire in the way Fincher explores the world of the media as it showcases his offbeat approach to dark humor. Notably as such media figures like Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle) is played for laughs as someone who has this belief that she is a crusader and is willing to smear Nick’s name without any real evidence. There’s also moments where Fincher manages to use the humor as it plays into how Nick had to present himself to the media. Still, there are elements where it is very dark as it relates to Amy’s disappearance as well as contents in her diary as it raises questions into her own past.
Especially with a former boyfriend named Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) whom Amy had filed a restraining order against as he had been stalking her. It adds to the many ambiguities about the truth where it becomes more complicated as the film progresses towards its finale where it returns to that exploration into marriage. A marriage that raised many questions into why Nick and Amy even got married in the first place as the question about marriage starts to come into play. Overall, Fincher creates a very brooding yet intoxicating film about a man dealing with the disappearance of his wife.
Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography with its unique approach to lighting as well as creating something that feels a bit discolored in its look for many of the film‘s locations as well as the way lights are presented in certain scenes as well as the TV footage. Editor Kirk Baxter does amazing work with the editing with its approach to jump-cuts and montages that plays off into the rhythms of suspense as well as some dramatic montages and some of the film‘s funnier moments. Production designer Donald Graham Burt, with supervising art director Sue Chan and set decorators Douglas A. Mowat and Gena Vasquez, does fantastic work with the look of the suburban home that Nick and Amy lives as well as the chaotic look of his father‘s home as well as the home of Margo.
Costume designer Trish Summerville does nice work with the costumes from the stylish underwear that Amy wears as well as the suits that Nick would wear in his interviews as much of it is casual in playing to the other characters. Sound designer Ren Klyce does excellent work with the sound to create some effective sound work to play into the air of suspense as well as scenes where dialogue is inaudible as well as in some of the bits of music on location that is played. The film’s music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is incredible as it’s one of the film’s highlights as it’s approach to dark ambient music with dissonant guitars and electronics add to some of its melancholic tone along with some somber pieces driven by piano and ambient textures as it’s one of their best film scores.
The casting by Laray Mayfield is great as it features some notable small performances from Kathleen Rose Perkins as a search volunteer who takes a selfie with Nick, Boyd Holbrook and Lola Kirke as a young couple Amy meets in her days away from New York City, Cyd Strittmatter as Nick and Margo’s ailing mother, Leonard Kelly-Young as Nick and Margo’s elderly father, David Clennon and Lisa Banes as Amy’s parents who take the lead to find Amy as they would confront Nick about the marriage, Sela Ward as the TV host Sharon Scheiber who interviews Nick in his attempt to prove his innocence, Emily Ratajkowski as the young college student in whom Nick had an affair with, and Scoot McNairy as a former boyfriend of Amy’s whom Nick meets where they share some surprising revelations.
Missi Pyle is very funny as the sleazy TV host Ellen Abbott who tries to discredit Nick’s name and devolve herself into tabloid TV while Casey Wilson is wonderful as Nick and Amy’s dim-witted neighbor Noelle who claims to be Amy’s friend as she would provide a key aspect to the investigation. Patrick Fugit is excellent as Officer Jim Gilpin who assists Boney in the investigation as he gets to say some funny lines throughout the film as he’s suspicious of Nick. Kim Dickens is fantastic as Detective Rhonda Boney who leads the investigation as she would uncover some key clues about the case such as credit card bills and Amy’s diary while wondering about Amy and who she is. Neil Patrick Harris is superb as Amy’s former boyfriend Desi Collings whom Nick wanted to talk to as he’s a very strange figure that implies a sense of creepiness about the way he is around Amy which would explain the restraining order.
Tyler Perry is amazing as Tanner Bolt as this defense attorney who is a master in making his clients look good as Perry brings in a lot of charisma and charm as well in how to instruct Nick in doing interviews. Carrie Coon is brilliant as Nick’s twin sister Margo who is the film’s conscious as she tries to prove Nick’s innocence despite some of his flaws while she is also a target of the media where she is accused of having an incestuous relationship with her brother among other many lies. Ben Affleck is phenomenal as Nick Dunne as a writer turned community college professor who deals with the accusations of his wife’s appearance as well as realizing in how much of a fuck-up he is in his marriage as it’s a role where Affleck plays the cuckold as well as someone who can look good for the camera. Finally, there’s Rosamund Pike in an outstanding performance as Amy Elliott as this woman who had everything until financial difficulties has her becoming troubled in her marriage as it’s a role full of complexities and many layers that are just astonishing to watch as it’s a real break-out role for the actress.
Gone Girl is a tremendously dark yet powerful film from David Fincher that features amazing performances from Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Along with a strong supporting cast that includes Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, and Kim Dickens plus some great technical work and an incredible score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The film is definitely a suspense-drama that is full of intricate layers and compelling themes on marriage thanks in part to its writer Gillian Flynn. In the end, Gone Girl is a magnificent film from David Fincher.
David Fincher Films: Alien 3 - Se7en - The Game - Fight Club - Panic Room - Zodiac - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - The Social Network - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 film)
Related: The 15 Essential Videos of David Fincher - The Auteurs #61: David Fincher
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