Movie Review: Gone Girl

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When his wife Amy disappears, Nick Dunne becomes the focus of an investigation and a media frenzy as everyone tries to find out what happened to her.

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David Fincher, 2014

Former writer and current bar owner Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is in trouble. His wife, writer-turned-housewife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing under suspicious circumstances, and the police are starting to think he did it. As the clues build up, Detective Boney (Kim Dickens) attempts to piece together what happened to Amy, in part using journals that tell us how Nick and Amy’s relationship started. Nick’s stoic nature, private anger towards his wife, and lies start to unravel as the media hounds him. However, it wasn’t only Nick who kept secrets, and Amy’s true nature is slowly revealed as the audience wonders what really happened to Amy Elliot Dunne.

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This latest effort from David Fincher is an interesting one. It’s stylish and well-acted, very carefully crafted, and it’s undoubtedly intriguing. From the opening shot, the violent language of Nick’s voice-over musing about cracking Amy’s head open and understanding what’s inside sets the mood of brooding disquiet that will last throughout. The effect through the opening credits is neat, names blinking brightly before fading fast, like a camera flash. That visual flair continues throughout. There’s no doubt the film looks terrific, in muted tones and carefully structured shots that linger lovingly over frequently disturbing images. The performances are good across the board here, Ben Affleck bringing his A-game instead of his oft-seen D-game as the formerly handsome and charming Nick, and Rosamund Pike throwing everything into the ferocious Amy. The supporting cast is also good: Carrie Coon as Nick’s sarcastic and suffering twin sister Margo, Kim Dickens’ meticulous and clever detective, Missi Pyle as a manipulative talk show host, Casey Wilson as an overwrought housewife, and (ugh) Tyler Perry as a famous, charismatic lawyer.

Ultimately, I think what I dislike about this movie is that it feels like a very big-budget soap opera dressed up to the nines with talented people on board. Instead of posing questions about out society, it simply reinforces all the worst stereotypes in it. It appeals to the voyeur in all of us while purporting to call out the media for doing the same; in short, it paints a very negative picture of humanity and invites us to revel in it. It’s ultimately less of a mystery than a horror movie, with a fascinating but deranged villain. It’s also much too long at two and a half hours (you can’t tell me they needed that much time, I frequently wondered how much longer we had to go) and the sound design in the flashbacks is frustrating in that I missed half the mumbled dialogue. Fincher has a tendency to explore the darker side of human nature, of relations between the sexes, and really this is another conservative vision dressed up in sex and violence. Technically it’s good, but it’s empty and shallow in spite of its attempts at depth.

Gone Girl on IMDb

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Gone Girl

  1. rwnsmth

    So the dialogue in the flashbacks were super muted for you too? I thought it was a problem with my theater (it happened before during Pacific Rim, but that time was so bad I ended up complaining because we missed way too much and felt very lost for a chunk of the movie). I don’t understand Fincher’s choice to not only have Pike speak so softly but then to not punch up the sound so we could actually hear her. It’s a strange decision.

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