“What’s the point of being together if you’re not happy?”
Marriage…there is a reason many say to wait as long as possible. Gone Girl takes us into the holy matrimony of Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike), who have been together for almost five years. It just so happens that on the date that would have made their marriage five years, Nick comes home and finds the living room in a chaotic mess. Worse yet, Amy is nowhere to be found.
It does not take long for the local authorities to get involved in the missing case, and it takes even less time for the national press to do so. As the disappearance time grows longer and information starts to trickle out, Nick is quickly labeled as a prime suspect not only in the law and order arena, but the pubic perception arena as well. With that, the question is asked: Did Nick Dunne have anything to do with the vanishing of his wife?
If you’ve been reading MMJ reviews for a while now, I do my best to write them as spoiler-free as possible, from brief synopsis to the take on the flick. I believe that more times than not I’m pretty good with the effort, and when I believe something may be deemed even a light spoiler, I precede what is coming with SPOILER. With that said, Gone Girl is a bit tougher to talk about without spoiling, but it is worth a try. My apologies if this is more vague and disjointed than usual. Thankfully, Gone Girl has no such worries. From beginning to end, it is one of the more complete efforts of the year.
Critically acclaimed director David Fincher is tasked with bringing the popular novel to the silver screen, and it really does feel as if this could have been an original screenplay. Sure, part of that might be due to myself not reading the novel, but the fact is there are so many themes going on here, and yet all meld together to create something to seize attention. Even at 149 minutes, it is a compelling watch that hardly ever wanes. Aside from a slight period in the very middle that bogs down the movie just a tad, Gone Girl is expertly paced with an unforeseen narrative structure that gives a hearty amount of necessary backstory.
The film’s main focus begins on that of the fragile marriage of the Dunnes, but it doesn’t stay there for the entirety. Though it is great in its own right with well done and unexpected twists and turns, what Fincher does in his examination and even satire of the media is nothing short of awesome. How the media is able to change and manipulate news and public sentiment on a whim is true power in this day and age, and this story theme was just as intriguing as the “did he or didn’t he” story. As a whole, the tale is heavy, mature, and grounded, but with a dash of dark humor that keeps the movie from being a complete somber experience. Only near the end does one particular scene come off as unnecessary. Sometimes being implicit is more effective than being explicit.
It was James Brown who famously stated “This is a man’s world.” The opposite could be had here. It feels like it has been quite some time since a movie has contained so many thorough female parts in it, with even the smaller women roles being noteworthy in this one. But there is a trifecta of performances deserving of praise. Kim Dickens is the lead detective on the case, and her character is one absent of nonsense and frill. On the other side of the spectrum lies Carrie’s Coon’s character Margo Dunne.
Playing Affleck’s sister, the best thing about her performance is that she really nails the brother-sister aspect with Affleck. She gives him a hard time and for good reason, but her love for Nick is never doubted once. With that said, the role getting much buzz is played by Rosamund Pike. To delve even barely into it could be deemed spoiler-ish, but rest assured that it will likely stand as one of the best roles, male or female, of anyone this year.
There may have been a time in which Ben Affleck was an A-list name with less than A-list talent, but times have changed. He is a solidly good actor now, not an amazing one, but very consistent nonetheless. I was not enamored with the job done by him here but as time went on, he got better and better, almost like a halfback getting stronger and stronger during a game. The real surprise here is
Madea Tyler Perry. His character is one of the more smarter ones in the flick, and around more “respected” actors and actresses, he is never out of place and looks and sounds the part as an all-knowledgeable attorney. Amid all of the good to stellar performances, one does stick out from the pack in a negative way. Unfortunately, Neil Patrick Harris is less than convincing in his portrayal of the character he plays. It is hard to quantify, but it just was off and unnatural when placed in direct comparison to others.
The buildup and buzz to the release may be gone, but what remains is a meticulous piece of cinema. None of the minor gripes are enough to derail Gone Girl from an unpredictable, immersive, and very well-crafted film.
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