Posted October 19, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

Gone Girl Review


At the time of writing this article, David Fincher’s latest movie ‘Gone Girl’ has enjoyed 2 weeks at the summit of the UK Box Office (a feat of some majesty considering its audience decimating 18 certificate). It has become quite the ‘staff room’ hot topic, which I imagine further drives those on the outside of those conversations round the kettle, and biscuits, to go and see the movie.

All well and good, we like movies that promote debate here at Filmwerk Towers (just listen to our Podcasts), so, even though we are a little late to the party; let’s see what all the fuss is about.

This review will attempt to remain spoiler free of course, but apologies if there is anything in the forthcoming prose that reveals too much.

It’s worth noting that the UK trailers are our yardstick for defining what can be said and what can’t, however sometimes trailers can be pure evil, and spoil key plot points (much to the director’s chagrin), so we will aim to pay special attention here.

OK, so the movie introduces us to a late thirty something schlub by the name of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), who, on the morning of his 5th wedding anniversary; comes home to his comfortable suburban home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing, with what looks like evidence of a struggle.

Cue the cops, immense media frenzy (ramped up a few extra notches, for reasons that will become clear), and the inevitable accusations of murder towards Nick.

Did he do it?

Did someone else do it?

Did it happen at all?

Did something quite different happen?

What the hell happened?!!

What the….?!!

Well, you’ll just have to go see the movie to find out.

Suffice to say, the film runs the gamut, from murder mystery to absurdist reality TV and everything in between.

Criticism of the ‘It’s so misogynistic’ variety can go to hell, and doesn’t warrant further debunking. Don’t buy in to that rubbish, it’s simply not relevant. Go see the picture, make you own mind up.

Despite his many nay sayers; Affleck remains in this author’s opinion; a very fine actor, if perhaps not a truly great one. Yes, he can be a little too stiff of chin, and his onscreen body language is often awkward in a curious way, but he is always perfectly watchable. He makes Nick Dunne a fairly loathsome fellow, but not so loathsome as to cultivate viewer opinion one way or another (which is the point). A bad actor can’t do that.

Top marks however, go to Rosamund Pike’s pitch perfect performance. If you know Pike’s previous work; you will instantly understand how spot on her being cast as Amy really is (despite having to adopt an American accent or two). Her story is told in the form of diary entry flashback, and she is simply magnetic.

In a movie career that effectively stretches back to her fairly notable dash in the otherwise risible Bond flick Die Another Day in 2002, she has never really bagged a career defining role. Well, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Gone Girl has just changed all that. Just do yourself a favour and avoid seeing her other new movie* too close to seeing Gone Girl. You’ll thank us.

*What We Did On Our Holiday – out on general release right now also.

The supporting cast is also very impressive, and performances are just the right balance of real and hyper-real. Particular praise goes to Kim Dickens (Lead Cop), Carrie Coon (Nick’s sister), Tyler Perry (Nick’s Lawyer), and Patrick Fugit (2nd Cop). The nearest this movie gets to fielding characters that tip the balance the wrong way is probably the two TV hosts played by Missi Pyle and Sela Ward. However, for an American viewer, these characters are probably a lot less jarringly absurd.

Emily Ratajkowski (yes her from the ‘Blurred Lines’ video), gets a special mention here, as do her magnificent breasts in the film itself.

Mention of the term ‘hyper-real’ just now, brings us squarely to the door of the architect of all this, Mr. David Fincher.

He is one of those directors that polarises opinion. Few who have an opinion at all, will sit on the fence regarding any of his movies. His meticulous attention to detail knows few limits, and you always get the message loud and clear that everything in frame is there because David wants it there. No not there, there!

Some reviewers have had less than adorable things to say about Fincher’s penchant for a certain type of colour grading on his films, and yes this is something that once you notice, you can never ‘un’ notice. It will either bother you or it won’t. However, it is probably a sign that other aspects of the film are not compelling you; if his colour grading choices are high on your list of bothersome demerits.

It’s probably safe to say that most people who take an interest in directors will be able to point to at least one of his movies that they really like. For us here at Filmwerk, there are many.

Gone Girl is good…no, it’s really good. Where does it stack in relation to previous Fincher fan fave titles like Fight Club, Seven, or The Game? Well, for this reviewer it’s certainly up there in the upper half of his filmography, and bearing in mind we are talking about barely a dozen movies; this should be recommendation enough.

Before a star rating is issued, and we get the hell out of Dodge; I must just mention the soundtrack. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have certainly become Fincher’s musical muse recently, and it’s clearly working really well. The soundtrack these guys have crushed together for Gone Girl is as compelling as that of The Social Network, and achieves a similar trick of having on a two dimensional level ; very little in common with the subject matter. Yet, on levels far deeper, and more disturbing; it connects perfectly. Perhaps The Social Network pulled off this trick better, but only because the music and subject matter were more absurdly pole apart than with Gone Girl.

It matters not.

Reznor and Ross have produced another master class in perfectly chosen audio moments, stereo positioning, noise manipulation, sound design, and just enough melody to tie it all down thematically, and curate the tension to a beat. It’s wonderful, and very much the audio equivalent of Fincher’s visual detail obsession.

In conclusion

If you want to know what all the fuss is about:

Go see the picture.

If you fancy going to see a box office #1, honest to goodness 18 certificated movie:

Go see the picture.

If you are in a relationship that has seen better days:

Go see the picture, but don’t be surprised if your relationship doesn’t survive it.

I think that just about covers it.

4 Stars




Ben Pegley