Reviewed by Danny Sarnowski
The David Fincher in command of Gone Girl, the adaptation of Gillian Flynn's caustic mystery blockbuster, is as assured as ever. The filmmaking on display is confident but not gimmicky. There are few of the technological skill demonstrations evident in Panic Room or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This Fincher knows - that you know - that he rules.
The entire affair rests on Flynn's twisted anti-romance. She has done more than adapt her own novel for the screen. She has distilled it. She has taken the framework of her story, with all its narrative twists and nastiness, sacrificed what needed to be cut for the sake of a film adaptation and left us with the husk of a relationship. A bombed out, burned up, rotten-to-the-core marriage built on lies, regret, resentment, and outright hatred. You know, a classic Fincher movie marriage. Flynn's adaptation works well and it fits the director's arm's-length style. The movie retains the book's three-act structure and competently pivots the audience's point of view and sympathy. For the uninitiated, this could be overwhelming. For readers of Flynn's novel the results are satisfying while still delivering on shock.
Ben Affleck, who is custom-cast for this role, plays Nick Dunne, a former New York writer living in Missouri with his type A wife Amy. Amy goes missing on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary and Nick is left grasping for what to do next. As the search for Amy intensifies, along with the requisite police and media scrutiny, things begin to unravel. We get peeks behind the curtain into Nick and Amy's relationship and don't always like what we see.
The director displays his knack for casting as each actor slips comfortably into their roles. Affleck oozes smarmy, schlumpy-hunk charisma and angst. Tyler Perry purrs as a high-dollar defense attorney. Rosamund Pike, in a career performance, wraps herself into Amy Elliott Dunne, the victim and plays her straight. Pike has never given off much warmth as an actress and this distance is a perfect fit for Amy whom we are not sure how we feel about. Watching Pike in several of the more difficult scenes will leave you chilled long after leaving the theater.
Fincher's third collaboration with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the soundtrack truly adds to the piece. The music is really a part of the film and vice versa. The sense of dread and malaise the music evokes is palpable throughout the movie, peaking in the drop-dead third act as things really kick into a high gear of craziness.
The first two acts do seem somewhat tame. As though Fincher were on a leash, expertly, yet cautiously, adapting this very popular book. He is faithful to the source text and leaves just enough of his fingerprints on it to keep you hooked. As the second act concludes and you begin to grasp the true depths of the sickness on display, he roars to life. Affleck slinks around his house, ostensibly a free man, looking like he is dancing on a field of Black Widows and poisonous snakes. This is where Fincher and Flynn bring the story home. And where they take your breath away.
- The acting all around was very good. Affleck has never been better and Pike is thrilling.
- The color palette that David Fincher chooses just bleaches all joy from the world.
- The soundtrack is great.
- The first two acts, if you've read the book, miss some of the punch. Fincher rears his head in act three.
- A tight, twisted tale that keeps you engaged even as you look to distance yourself from almost everyone on screen. A