Sunday, 12 October 2014

Gone Girl



Gone Girl is an old-fashioned (somewhat Hitchcockian) psychological thriller, full of twists and turns and intelligent dialogue that has a lot to say about the world we live in today (especially with regard to the media). I generally enjoy such films and Gone Girl is no exception, but I do have one big complaint.

Without giving anything of consequence away, I’ll tell you that Gone Girl focuses on the trials of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a man who comes home one afternoon to find his wife missing and clear signs of a struggle. He calls the police and into his life comes Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), who takes over the case. Nick has a twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), who supports him throughout the twisted ordeal which follows, though not without worries and suspicions (the police and the media, of course, immediately suspect Nick of foul play). 

Woven into the first half of the story are excerpts from a diary written by Nick’s wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), through which we get to see some of the backstory of how Nick and Amy met and what the first years of their marriage were like. 

Gone Girl is directed by David Fincher and you can tell from the opening scenes that you are watching the work of a master. The atmosphere, the cinematography and the music blend together in a style perfectly suited to the genre (if the emphasis is on intelligent drama instead of action). It doesn’t hurt if you have the writer of the novel (Gillian Flynn) also writing the screenplay. I predicted a few of the twists (because I can’t stop my brain from trying to do that whenever I watch such films), but there were enough twists I didn’t predict to make this long thriller a very satisfying piece of entertainment.

So what’s the problem? Well, the biggest weakness of the film, for me, is Ben Affleck. I have said it before: I don’t think Affleck is a very good actor. Nothing in Gone Girl changes that opinion. Sure, there were many scenes in which his acting was passable and his performance was wisely understated, but I couldn’t help thinking that the presence of a better lead actor would have made Gone Girl far more emotionally compelling. I just couldn’t identify in any way with Nick Dunne (whether I was supposed to or not). 

The three lead female actors (Pike, Coon, Dickens), on the other hand, were terrific and it was their characters who kept me riveted to the screen (I wish Dickens, in particular, had had more air time). Anyway, it’s great to see that top quality films like Gone Girl are also drawing crowds to the cinema. A solid ***+. My mug is up.

4 comments:

  1. I am probably writing this too soon after watching, but I don't think the biggest weakness is Ben Affleck, I think it's the totally lame ending. How stupid is that - after a movie full of things being done carefully, there is no way that ending works for so many reasons. As far as the acting goes, I think it is hard to tell because of how the actors seem to be expected to change their way of behaving (which I assume to be Fincher's problem) as the film goes along. The best actor is the twin sister and the lead cop is close behind. But there is just no forgiving the last fifteen minutes or so - what a waste of what was looking like a good thriller. Another example of a thriller ruining itself because of the need for too many twists. No mug up from me - **+

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you and I were comparing notes about the lame ending, I'd probably agree with you more often than not. Still, it was my kind of film and I obviously enjoyed it more than you did.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are probably quite right - though I should say again that I thought it was a pretty great thriller right up until the last fifteen or so minutes. For me, that makes enough of a difference that I would never bother to recommend it to anyone or choose to watch it again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just watched it. And loved it. I like the ending, because it shows how people can get caught up in the stories they make or that make them. Nick is trapped and he acts like a caged accomplice.

    ReplyDelete