Not surprisingly lots of hype surrounded this project, considering David Fincher was getting his hands on a story based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling 2012 novel of the same name – many labeling it one of the best books of that year. But with that, and an enticing enough cast (Affleck excluded), does Gone Girl deliver?
After returning home one day to a peculiar scene, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his famous wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing, but the case soon becomes the focus of an intense nationwide media circus. He sees the spotlight turned on him when his innocence is questioned and a series of clues, not to mention hard evidence, points his way. However there’s a lot more going on behind this picture perfect American dream marriage.
For filmgoers looking for a slow paced dark cerebral thriller with a difference, and several twists. Although it must be said that it’s slightly more pedestrian than some of David Fincher’s other work.
There’s been quite some consternation about this film and its decidedly negative message about the modern marriage, but the actual shortfall is actually much more basic.
At first glance, I must say that my enthusiasm dwindled with the mentioned of Ben Affleck (Argo being the last film of his I’ve seen, and The Town before that) as my antipathy to toward him as an actor is quite well known in these parts (he is an excellent director though, and should continue as such). He simply is not an intriguing leading man – that being said, I was lured back to Gone Girl after the trailer as the film seems to capitalize on public sentiment around Affleck right now; there’s a notable line of “The most hated man in America” (just think of the Batfleck fallout), so it seemed a cunning move. And, incidentally/admittedly, Ben Affleck is not the worst part of this film, not by a long shot.
Gone Girl had me intrigued from the first scene and the internal dialogue which is word for word like the book, but from there the pacing does slow down in the second act, whilst the final third almost feels like a different film altogether.
Sadly the dour reflection of marriage, as well as characters and society in general makes for somewhat uncomfortable viewing (at least for this critic), and it leads me to believe this story makes for better reading than big screen viewing. This is nothing new of course since the book is more personal so you enter the journey on your own, but in a cinema the visual medium has a broader more comprehensive perspective communicating a different or more specified commentary on issues it raises. But I won’t dwell on topics of feminism, rape, or adultery (some have even labelled author Gillian Flynn as having an animosity toward women), the flaw in this film is simply that there are very few likeable characters to invest in (Actually I only counted one), and that’s even looking at the broader cast of supporting characters including the talented Scoot McNairy and comedy ‘stallwarts’ Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris. In most good stories you need someone to support, to invest in, but here, that character is only a supporting character, so the essential story elements take on an observational dynamic, distancing the viewer who should feel more involved.
In the end I left the cinema somewhat disappointed – and my expectations weren’t exactly high either considering the (albeit somewhat diminished) Affleck factor.
I simply did not enjoy this film, that does not mean it’s bad, it’s just not one of those movies you go to enjoy and be entertained (though some might) by. It’s a film for one to be absorbed within the narrative with its twists and turns, but for me, the payoff just wasn’t worth it, not for the climax itself, but for the overall message it sends.