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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Movie Review - Gone Girl

Gone Girl (2014)
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Casey Wilson, David Clennon, Lisa Banes, and Sela Ward
Directed by David Fincher

From a story perspective, Gone Girl is my kind of movie -- a suspense thriller with twists and turns galore that never feel forced or simply added for "Gotcha!" moments.  When his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) finds himself at the center of a controversy with the media (including a pushy Nancy Grace-esque commentator played by Missi Pyle) who presume his guilt and local law enforcement who also find many things about him questionable.  However, as the film unfolds, we realize that things are not always as they seem and believable surprises await around many corners.

It's tough to delve into exactly why I love Gone Girl so much without revealing spoilers, so I'll leave the summary above as the only plot points to be revealed (and spoilers will come with the inevitable Year in Review posts sometime next year).  Needless to say, it is the plot and the script by Gillian Flynn (who also penned the novel upon which the movie is based) that is the star of the show here.  While the acting, directing, and other aspects of the production are all solid, it's the intricate plot and the devious nature of our main characters that really pushes this story over the edge.  Multiple times during the movie, the audience whom I watched the film with let out sounds of audible shock.  Oftentimes in films, these shocking moments don't resonate because we don't find them a natural progression for the characters that inhabit the screen.  However, in Gone Girl these moments are legitimate paths that we believe are set for the characters.  Flynn takes moments that could've absolutely been ridiculously off-the-wall and makes them innately plausible.  It's a task that isn't easy, but rich character development is essential for this to occur and that's certainly achieved here.

Hand-in-hand with that essential character development are actors who can bring to life what Flynn puts on the page and there's not a bad apple in the bunch in Gone Girl.  From headliners Affleck and Pike to the lesser known Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens to the "I can't believe these guys are in this" Neil Patrick Harris (as a former obsessive lover of Amy's) and Tyler Perry (!!) (as Nick's well-to-do intelligent defense attorney), all rise to the occasion.  Essentially playing two different roles thanks to flashbacks, both Affleck and Pike bring to life the joy of the initial pangs of love along with the ennui and frustration that so many marriages suffer after the honeymoon phase has dissipated.  Gone Girl tackles what happens after the facades of first impressions are broken down and the two leads do a fantastic job of bringing this to life.

Nice chemistry is also had between Affleck and both Ms. Coon and Ms. Dickens, though in different ways.  Coon's Margo -- Nick Dunne's twin sister -- is perhaps the character the audience latches onto the most because she is tasked with being the most levelheaded of anyone onscreen.  She tells it like it is to her brother and becomes frustrated with him (much like the audience) when he does stupid things that point towards his guilt in the disappearance of his wife.  The loving repartee between Affleck and Coon makes them completely believable siblings.  Countering that, the contentiousness felt between Affleck and Kim Dickens' detective Rhonda Boney is a nice aspect of the story as well.  Much like several relationships in the film, Nick and Rhonda's attitudes towards one another fluidly shift as the movie progresses, but Dickens brings a tough, though deliberately smart quality to what could've been a rote character in a film like this.

Director David Fincher places the focus of the flick on two things -- how the media shapes the way we act and how the way we act is shaped by how we want to impress others.  These two incredibly similar concepts intertwine to great effect in Gone Girl which I think is a better film overall than his much revered The Social Network a few years ago and may very well be his most entertaining film to date.  Stretching to a nearly two-and-a-half hour length, the epic nature of this one couple's lies, love, and emotional compromises moves along at such a rapid pace that I found myself longing for the film to continue on for another hour, wanting to know how various characters' lives were affected by the film's final outcome.  Fincher pieces Flynn's screenplay together like a puzzle and as the picture becomes clearer we see just how disturbed Amy and Nick's relationship truly is, was, or perhaps will be.

The RyMickey Rating:  A

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