Film Review: Gone Girl

It is a rare event when Jeff and I go to the cinema for the opening weekend release of a film. But with all the build up and buzz around Gone Girl, we couldn’t resist. We went back to our favorite theater, Everyman Cinema on Baker Street and settled in. The theater was packed! We hadn’t seen so many people in the cinema before, and because of that, we made a decision that we would never see a movie opening weekend again.

When you go to a small theater for a big movie, you can definitely count on being pushed around, knee knocked, and have your hair pulled by people falling into their seats. I just didn’t expect it to all happen at once and a few times over.

But that’s enough about the cinema experience. I made a point to not watch a single trailer for Gone Girl, read another review, or know anything about the movie aside from what is presented on the marketing poster that is plastered hundreds of times over in the London tubes. I wanted to go in with a completely fresh approach and zero spoilers, and I was not disappointed. I was floored.

Caution: Spoilers!

The story of Gone Girl follows Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, and his mission to find his missing wife, Amy Dunne, played by Rosamund Pike. On the morning of their five year anniversary, things are not as they seem. Nick comes home after hanging out with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) to what appears to be a home invasion and his wife gone. As the media would spin it in all its viral glory, all eyes point to Nick as the mastermind behind his perfect and idyllic wife’s disappearance.

But things are not to be taken at face value. Everyone in the film has instantly turned into a pawn in the chess game Amy has devised to rid the world of her husband. If it means she must sacrifice herself to go to such a length, then so be it. We really feel the anger and desperation Amy hoards, but to understand why she felt this was her best option is more difficult to understand. How can someone hate their spouse so much that they would stage a kidnapping and throw her entire community into turmoil? It takes a certain mind, I suppose.

However, Amy’s plan is not completely foolproof. She faces her own hiccup in her plan and must change her course only to create more damage in her wake. See, Amy is the kind of woman who cannot lose an inch of control because so much of her life has been planned and written for her by her parents who created an entire children’s book franchise of Amazing Amy–a child who embodies what her parents wish she had achieved. The whole world must be under her thumb and there is no other alternative.

This film is the definition of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” And we get the unsettling feeling within seconds. The opening line of the film is read by Nick.

When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it…And what’s inside it. I think of that too: her mind. Her brain, all those coils, and her thoughts shuttling through those coils like fast, frantic centipedes. Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspool­ing her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking, Amy?

This was quite disarming. Like I had said, I didn’t know anything about this film and this instantly set the mood and expectation of what I getting ready for.

The film is nearly three hours long, but honestly, I didn’t notice. Between the cast of amazing actors including Kim Dickens and Tyler Perry to Missi Pyle and Neil Patrick Harris, along with the gripping story written for screen by the author of the novel, Gillian Flynn, I was on the edge of my seat and rooting for Nick the whole way. What a feat in and of itself! This man is a cad and despicable human being. But it really says something when you root for the adulterer rather than the manipulative scorned wife.

David Fincher has really made a name for himself with gripping stories with an edge. Fight Club, Se7en, The Social NetworkZodiacand even House of Cards are all feats in filmmaking but also cinematography. More than the storyline and the acting, the images are what hang in my mind. Every single frame was gorgeous and artfully done by Jeff Cronenweth who has been by Fincher’s side since Se7en. Everything carried a light blue tint making things almost seem as grey as the atmosphere Nick feels in the story. It actually reminded me quite a bit of the colorization for The Social Network, far from the vibrant colors splashed around Fight Club.

Mix that with the score done by Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross, and you have a film that is brilliantly acted, looks gorgeous, and sounds as eerie as our female lead.

The more I let this film simmer in my mind, the more I realized how much I enjoyed it and want to see it again.

Not to bring a political note to the film, but I do want to touch briefly on domestic violence in the film. I’ve been seeing more and more PSAs and bulletins for domestic violence awareness, but not just on the woman’s end. Men can be abused, too, but more than that, it can be mental abuse. With what Amy puts Nick through really speaks to mental abuse on a spouse and how manipulative an individual can be in a failed relationship. How far is too far when it comes to “revenge” and “hate?” Does Nick’s indiscretion match the punishment Amy inflicted on him or is it just a form of abuse in an unhappy marriage?

While Gone Girl speaks of more than just an unhappy desperate housewife, or even a crumbling marriage, the film is a captivating look at how far someone will go to not lose control of her own life no matter the consequences. I highly recommend this film.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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