Friday, 3 October 2014

Review: Gone Girl

World of Blackout Film Review

Gone Girl Poster

Gone Girl (Vague-SPOILERS)
Cert: 18 / 149 mins / Dir. David Fincher
WoB Rating: 6/7

While it'd be fair to describe David Fincher's big-screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel as 'twisty', it doesn't share that definition with Fincher's 'end-reveal' 1990s works. The twists in Gone Girl are in the characters themselves, and the lengths they'll go to to hide, cheat and manipulate those around them. The first curve-ball is thrown by the snappy dialogue between Ben Affleck's Nick Dunne and his twin sitster Margo (the fantastic Carrie Coon) in their opening scene, which is almost Kevin-Smith-like until the film's events take a darker turn and the mood is lowered accordingly. Throughout the film, Nick's relatable fuck-up of a character is the viewer's anchor as he discovers his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing and orchestrates a full-scale search to find her, all the while interspersed with flashback segments with diary-narration by Amy herself.

If Affleck's performance is engaging, Pike's is positively masterful, delicately maintaining a character who is vulnerable, unlikeable but also thoroughly fascinating. Her portrayal of Amy is a textbook exercise in ramping up the dread with flair and precision, and while it's mostly underplayed, there are frequent glimpses that Rosamund is (finally) destined for far greater things than the half-arsed comedies*1 which have been paying her mortgage lately. With a character as ambiguous as Amy Dunne, the temptation is there to go 'full bunny-boiler', but her (and director David Fincher)'s restraint stop the film from turning into Side Effects.

That said, as deft as the story and its players are handled, Gone Girl does weigh-in like the long film it is, and in its quieter moments can feel a little like one of those afternoon TV-movies on Channel 5 starring Brian Dennehy as a beleaguered Police chief. Divided quite neatly into three segments, it almost seems as if the story doesn't quite know what to do with its secondary characters towards the end with Margo, Amy's parents (Lisa Banes and David Clennon) and Kim Dickens' Detective Rhonda Boney*2 relegated to onlooker-status. The screenplay takes a few broad swipes at the mainstream US media, but doesn't seem to have the conviction to sink its teeth in properly. Then again, the film is all about hateful characters getting away with their misdemeanours, so maybe that's the point, as well.

And I've put a vague-spoiler warning up there for one reason and one reason alone: the more Gone Girl unfolds, the more it becomes apparent that this is Amy's story, not Nick's. And I only point that out because the film's ending (or rather, the state-of-play at that ending) may antagonise some viewers, but it left me emotionally unsettled more than almost anything which had come in the previous two and a half hours. While the narrative is meticulously structured, the tone of the film sometimes seems a little too moralistically flippant for its own good, which ironically becomes one of its strengths.

It's the culmination of all of this which means I can't decide if the film is very good or slightly brilliant. By no means an easy watch, although never overly-demanding, Gone Girl spins a web as sticky as it is enticing. Perhaps not the ideal date-movie, but if your problems are anything like Amy and Nick's, you've got bigger things to worry about than what you're going to watch at the cinema on Orange Wednesday…

Also features Neil Patrick Harris in his best sex-scene ever.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Yes and no. The trailer doesn't suggest anything that you aren't going to get, but there's far more to it than that.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Pretty much, yes.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I think it does.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
It's worth a trip to the flicks.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Will I watch it again?
I will.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There ain't.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
If the 'sugar cloud' from outside of the bakery goes round to the front of The Bar, how come it's not caked in white shit every time we see the exterior during the day? Don't tell me they scrub the front of the pub down every morning, surely?

*1 Although ironically, Rosamund Pike's character in 'Hector' isn't a million miles away from the one she plays in Gone Girl, either.
*2 No, that's her name. Seriously. Detective Boney. *sniggers*

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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