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Friday, November 7, 2014
You Only Hurt The Ones You Pretend To Love
happiness: Rosamund Pike as Amy and Ben Affleck as Nick (center) in David
"Gone Girl", written by Gillian Flynn and based on her best-selling novel.
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
David Fincher helms "Gone Girl", a sensationalist film that satirizes the
24-hour American cable TV news media cycle culture, its coverage of crime and
the populace's engagement to good effect -- but throws away the rest of the
film's reason to be. Written by Gillian Flynn based on her best-selling
same-titled novel, a bland-looking unemployed writer Nick (Ben Affleck) is
accused in the disappearance of "Amazing" Amy (Rosamund Pike), his
successful author-wife. Their marriage, shown in flashback via Amy's diary
entries and her narration of them, has been turbulent.
"Gone Girl" was released a month ago in the U.S. and Canada. For all its
slick, polished earth-warmth and gray-green cool, it fizzles after an hour,
plunging headlong into free-fall as characters are exposed as one-note
manipulators and more. Set in Missouri, the film's best character is lead
crime detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens, excellent here), who thinks she's
ahead of the game as she pieces together clues from Amy's abrupt disappearance
from her home.
"Gone Girl" captures stagecraft and its ingredients well, as it does the sheer
fallout of accusation -- a crime scene unto itself -- in an
amusing way. Amongst the detritus of caricature Nancy Grace and Diane
Sawyer are evoked in several scenes. "Gone Girl" proudly and nakedly
advertises that, as Shakespeare once wrote, all the world's a stage, but here
Mr. Fincher shows that his players readily fall off its edge.
those who fall do so in a campy way. Each is layered in camp.
Sometimes also in desperation. None of the characters is supposed to make
you feel better. They needn't. Each mirrors the apathetic,
reality-TV driven, reactionary, opportunist and uncritical thinking society they
(and moviegoers) live in. After a while style took over for me. I
absorbed myself in it, luxuriating in the one thing Mr. Fincher's film had to
offer. The characters in "Gone Girl" tarnished the view.
Nick is a static figure that events revolve around. The bewildered looks he
gives suggests his head is spinning. He is the film's least interesting
presence. Well, he is a writer. It seems that after act one Mr.
Fincher recognizes the disinterest and spends much of the film's second hour
with Amy. By the way, for married writers Amy (on hiatus) and Nick (out of
work) sure can afford a lot of very expensive things. "How can we afford this?", one of them
says to the other in a crisis moment. There's apparently no trust fund or
"Daddy come save me" money in sight but that doesn't stop the gold-tinted
opulence and open acreage from flowing in shot after shot.
One of the film's only other assets is the pensive, moody score by "Social Network"
musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The score perfectly fits the
atmosphere and oddly angular, misshapen faces Mr. Fincher uses so adroitly in
his canvases, but all else doesn't gel. Many of the "Gone Girl" characters
are ready to shed a mask or three but in a robotic way, without
mystery, at a moment's notice. Even on a micro level, ex-New Yorker Nick -- Mr. Affleck is a
Boston Red Sox fan -- dons a New York Mets baseball cap when trying on anonymity.
Later, in true fair-weather fan tradition, Nick-as-newly-minted-Missourian wears
a St. Louis Cardinals t-shirt. Nick's facelessness and casual,
unremarkable interchangeability is cemented.
Many women appear in Mr. Fincher's latest drana, and Ms. Flynn's writing doesn't
make the events or perspectives in "Gone Girl" any less male-centric or
skewered. The fairer sex has very little wiggle room except sexually and
outrageously. "Gone Girl" views
women as its biggest inconvenience and shrillest vagabond. There's a
hoodwinking, villainy and not-so mild suggestion that almost every woman
onscreen in "Gone Girl" is, or could be, a conniving, devious, raging psychotic
bunny-boiler. Or at least there are varying degrees and inferences to that
suggestion. Take a close look when you watch the film. It's either
mean-spirited, demented, or worse. Or all three.
In many of Mr. Fincher's films ("Seven", "The Game", "Fight Club",
"The Social Network",
"The Girl With The Dragon
Tattoo") women are targeted, scorned and condemned but are
rarely avenged or self-avenging. The
director goes from Rooney Mara in the latter two parenthesized films to Ms. Pike
here, whose Amy runs the full spectrum.
What Mr. Fincher does best in his films is develop atmosphere, mystery, dread
and characters compelling in their very nuance. In "Gone
Girl" however, much is exposed. Little is left to the imagination.
Nuance is virtually non-existent. Ms. Flynn's grand, lurid and vivid
strokes finally submerge Mr. Fincher's cool, directive and icy detachment. The director loses control of the tone and tenor of his film after the
hour-mark, as if he's gone to lunch and handed the reins to a schlock-meister or B-movie fanboy.
One mistake of Mr. Fincher's film is that as bland as Nick is and as functionary as many
of the remaining "Gone Girl" characters are, Amy herself isn't particularly
interesting either, which only further exaggerates the wildness that ensues.
There's such a heavy, dramatic imbalance between the first hour and the
minutes that it tanks and weights down the film like an albatross.
Granted, Mr. Fincher follows Ms. Flynn's literary protocol but her
theatricalities play well past plausibly and far overplayed on the big screen.
Amy and Nick exist in their own hopeless mire, in a love that is selfish,
hollow, and pure facade. By the time "Gone Girl", which delivers some
laughs amidst its long, preposterous spectacle, runs off the rails, it is way too late to recover. The movie is as too far gone as its girl is.
Also with: Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Patrick Fugit, Lisa
Banes, David Clennon, Emily Ratajkowski, Scoot McNairy, Sela Ward, Missy Pyle.
"Gone Girl" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association for a
scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language. Its running time is two
hours and 29 minutes.
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