Sitting in the theatre, waiting for one of your most anticipated films of the year makes your stomach turn. It did more to me, by making me want to vomit. There’s an air about every David Fincher movie that comes out in theatres that makes me sick because of my high expectations. Fincher’s weird casting choices always leaves me with the burning question: will he be able to pull it off? And most of the time he does. With Gone Girl, it isn’t any different. He was able to pull off Gillian Flynn’s tightly written screenplay with actors you’d never imagine doing such a good job.
I’ve always been on the fence with Ben Affleck’s acting abilities. But with Gone Girl he is able to do wonders, and that’s really thanks to the director and his power to elevate any actor’s abilities to all new heights. He sold me Affleck, and that is important because of his gigantic role (it’s also the best the future Batman has ever been in front of the camera). Affleck plays Nick Dunne, a suburban writer whose wife mysteriously disappears on their fifth anniversary. As the cops begin to suspect him and his dark, strange behaviour as the prime suspect, Nick begins his own attempt to uncover Amy’s disappearance to restore his name.
But Gone Girl is just as much Amy’s as it is Mr. Affleck’s conflicted and odd Nick Dunne. Introduced in the form of flashbacks through entries from Amy’s diary, we are introduced into the world of a crumbling marriage falling apart because of secrets, deceit and an overall dark cloud over the unhappy couple. This is where Ms. Pike (who’s been around, but out of the hot spotlight, for years and years) is able to shine and become the film’s most valuable player.
Pike’s Amy Dunne is reminiscent of any Hitchcock blonde but with an extra edge – she nails every single scene no matter dramatic, romantic, or intelligent (or nearly campy, depending on how you look at it). She joins the list of underrated David Fincher ladies, as she acted her way into an Oscar nomination (she’ll get in for sure). Amy has always been a baity character, but Pike is so fresh faced (to casual movie audiences at least) that she becomes even more believable. I’m trying to write this review without giving too many details but all I can say is that she is AMAZING AMY, and plays against Affleck in a brilliant manner. Any other actress in this role (including producer Reese Witherspoon, who is so damn talented no doubt) would not have been able to give it justice.
Fincher’s adaptation of Flynn’s novel is just as consistent as his incredibly brilliant filmography. The great thing about Fincher as a director (despite being an actor’s dream) is that he makes it seem like any screenwriter is a match made in heaven for him. But Flynn still holds up her own, and writes an eloquent and fearless screenplay (I’m sure it’s hard for an author to change their ending…I won’t comment on this because I haven’t read it).
When it came to the technical aspects of the film, Fincher is always on the money. Though this is a weaker technical achievement from most of his films, it’s still nonetheless very seamless and masterful filmmaking. It may not have the beautiful factor of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), the tight editing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) or the magnificent score of The Social Network (2010). But Fincher creates an atmosphere that only he can create, and Gone Girl is easily better or just as good as any of his other films. It’s top notch filmmaking, and almost a modern masterpiece.
The supporting cast plays well in the film, never forgetting that their roles are just as important to the storyline as the leading characters. Carrie Coon, who plays Affleck’s twin sister holds up her own in the shuffle of things and was the main supporting player in a film full of good performance. However, I was extremely surprised to find out that Kim Dickens (who was absolutely terrible in 2000’s Hollow Man) was actually very good here. It felt like a completely different actress from her previous monstrosity of a performance (and the only thing I remember her in). That’s David Fincher for you, an actor’s director. My only problem goes out to Neil Patrick Harris. Though he was quite adequate, he seemed misacted for this particular role. It’s his overexposure and the fact that he’s probably How I Met Your Mother’s poster child that left me feeling a bit weird in seeing him in something this dark. But it’s passable.
Overall, Gone Girl deserves all the praise it’s getting. My nausea that I experienced while entering the theatre quickly disappeared thirty minutes into the film and I’m so glad that it came out this way. I don’t see this film leaving my Top 10 of the year. It probably won’t even leave my Top 5. Though my ratings usually go down by the end of the year, and after some reflection, it’s hard for me to say that I won’t enjoy again after re-watch because Fincher films only getter better re-watch after re-watch.