October 5, 2014

Movie Review: Gone Girl

Wow. What else can I say? David Fincher is a masterful director. Sure, his movies may not all be perfect, but the guy is an amazing talent and nowhere is it on display better than in Gone Girl. With this movie the audience is played like a harp from hell. I had no idea just how far this movie would go. Simply put, the trailers do not even hint at what goes on in this movie. What they do is give a great set up and an interesting hook. Hell, while that hook may have been interesting, I was still unconvinced this would be good, or be able to justify its lengthy run time. Belive me, it did justify it.

I remember when I first saw the trailer, I thought to myself that this is what we need in traditional narrative film. Granted, it proved to not be all that traditional. I think what I was really thinking is that we need directors and writers willing to step up and do things in a non-traditional fashion. It is part of what attracts me more to genre films (horror/science fiction/exploitation), there is an inherent need to do something than the expected, by definition they break from reality by creating their own. That is something that Fincher is able to do, he took Gillian Flynn's screenplay (based on her novel) and crafted an effective thriller that breaks from the norm, blending past and present, real and made up, twisting it around until you have no idea what the truth is.

The trailer had me convinced of a straightforward tale of scumbag of a man trying to cover up the murder of his wife by pretending it is a disappearance. I want you to believe that too, but it is so much more than that. Of course, it probably helps that I had no idea that it was based on a book. Anyway, this is one of those movies that works better the less you know. Watching it unfold and reveal itself is something to behold, it raises the mundane to an art form, it makes what could be a very generic thriller and makes it something different.

Like I referenced in the opening, the phrase that came to mind was a variation on something the Penguin said in Batman Returns. The audience is played like a harp from hell. From the non-reveal of the well constructed trailer, to the messing with reality of the film itself, it all twists our perceptions, just like said harp. Now, it is not all Fincher's doing. Sure, he has the vision and the ability to make it happen, but he is helped along the way with some solid performances.

It has been fun (and easy) to make fun of Ben Affleck's ability over the years (Daredevil, anyone?), but something changed at some point. He has proven to be skilled behind the camera, and I believe with Gone Girl he has re-established himself as a top shelf actor. He really is good here. However, he is not the only one, Rosamund Pike turns in a great performance, convincing and surreal. There is something about her line delivery, something hidden behind her eyes that is, well, you will see.

Gone Girl grabbed me by the ears and held my attention all the way through. It is a well paced film that really doesn't drag at any time. Now, I am specifically being vague about the details, this is a movie where the revelation is part of the fun. It is a movie that reveals a lot about relationships, how people can do things, things they are not proud of, make mistakes, demand the wrong things, expect the wrong things, and show how the public's reaction can be swayed, and how the media plays a part in things. Of course, there is more, but you really need to see it.

This is one of the finest creations of the year. A movie that surprises at every turn, features situations that seem completely unreal and makes them frighteningly real. It is twisted tale that will keep you guessing. Even the ending will leave you scratching your head. Truly spectacular.

Highly Recommended.

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