Monday, October 6, 2014

Gone Girl - 2014

"Gone Girl" - 2014
Dir. by David Fincher - 2 hrs. 29 min.

Official Trailer #2

by Clayton Hollifield

Finally, the movie year of 2014 has begun.  Yeah, there's been a lot of movies out this year, and a ton of them that I didn't even need to see to know that I didn't need to see them.  There's been fun stuff like "Guardians of the Galaxy" (or any of the other comic-book adaptations), but "Gone Girl" is the first movie of the year that I've just gotten lost in the story, and not had much of an idea where things were going to end up.  Not only that, it was a great ride from beginning to end, a tense thriller with twists and turns that just don't let up.

On his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home to find a mess, but he doesn't find his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), anywhere.  There is blood, but no body, and the police, led by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), tries to get to the bottom of things, which appear less clear than they initially appear.  First assumption: she's been killed, and that Nick is probably responsible for it.  And just like every time a pretty blonde wife disappears under suspicious circumstances, bloodsuckers like Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle, playing a Nancy Grace clone) turn it into a 24-7 media circus.  Nick and his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) do what they can to clear his name, but it's pretty much all they can do just to keep out of the media's lenses, and they don't really even stay a step ahead of the police in this matter.

First things first, this is easily the best film I've seen this year.  I mean, I haven't seen "Godzilla" yet, but I feel safe in saying that this is in the discussion for best movie of the year, to this point.  As much as I enjoyed "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "Gone Girl" is probably the best possible argument to let director David Fincher tackle the other two books in that series.  His visual sense, mastery of suspense and tension, and expert pacing (this was a two-and-a-half hour film, preceded by twenty minutes of trailers, and never once felt like it was lagging or wasting time) are all on full display here.  The questions that drive this film, namely what happened to Amy and whether Nick did it, aren't answered on accident, and when they are answered, the answers raise more questions than I had before.  This is a complicated story, and there are lot of threads about, and it doesn't get any more confusing than necessary.  That is masterful storytelling.

I also loved the casting in this film, all the way around.  For people who have nothing better to do than hate Ben Affleck, casting him as Nick is kind of an act of trolling (which I whole-heartedly endorse).  If you don't like him, you're going to be inclined to immediately believe the worst about his character, which "Gone Girl" makes clear is at least partially the result of training by decades of sensationalist, irresponsible media coverage of these kinds of crimes.  If you're a fan, watching what happens when an imperfect man and his life is suddenly put under intense pressure and scrutiny is going to be a painful, uncomfortable experience.  The story isn't entirely about the standard knee-jerk media coverage of crimes like this, but the way that coverage affects both how the principals in the story are treated and how they must behave to avoid adding to the flame that's attracting all of the moths. This aspect of "Gone Girl" was handled well, cleverly, and was boosted by the casting of Tyler Perry as a sort of a "celebrity lawyer."  It's almost impossible to have a neutral response to Perry - he's a huge star who has done nothing of note aside repeatedly playing a comedy character in drag, so it's really easy to view him as little more than a buffoon (which is my bias showing), which is pretty much exactly how you should feel about lawyers who are famous pretty much for being on Nancy Grace's show.  As an aside, Perry is also physically larger than Ben Affleck (which is saying something), which is a necessary component of Nick's relationship with Tanner Bolt; it's a subtle thing, but requiring someone physically larger to direct Nick plays up to the distinct possibility that Nick murdered his wife in a rage.

There's a lot of this movie that I won't talk about, just because to spoil much of anything would be awful.  That makes it exceedingly difficult to talk about Rosamund Pike's performance throughout the film (the story is told in a somewhat non-linear fashion, but that aspect doesn't make the film difficult to understand), but a lot of the story rests on her shoulders, and she carries it.  She kind of kicks everyone's ass, in this department.  Beyond that, "Gone Girl" is a successful film.  I mean, it's the first movie in a while that I want to encourage people to see.  It's the kind of movie that theatres are made for; you need to be locked in a dark room away from the world's distractions, devoted to nothing more than paying attention to this story to get the most out of it.  There are some movies that don't suffer from being broken up or from periodic distractions.  "Gone Girl" isn't one of those films.  The tone is remarkable and enveloping, the mood is involving (no matter where the material heads), the acting is top-notch, and the story flat out kicks ass.  This isn't a cool movie, it's one that will find it's way into some of your worst fears, and take you on a ride from there.  So see it, like right now.

4.5 / 5 - Theatre

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