Dr. Donna Copeland’s
BEN AFFLECK ROSAMUND PIKE KIM DICKENS TYLER PERRY
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS CARRIE COON PATRICK FUGIT
If you read the bestselling book by Gillian Flynn then you know what you are in for. Even if you haven’t, when Oscar nominated director David Fincher (The Social Network, Benjamin Button) jumps on board to direct, you know this will be something extraordinary. Fincher is the type of director who likes to push boundaries; he likes the dark, uncomfortable material and exposing it to the mainstream. His last book adaptation did the same; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a shocker and a surprise for those unfamiliar with the books. Gone Girl is beyond clever, especially when you have the writer working with the director for the cinematic adaptation. Fincher’s direction is, of course, acute, but everyone will only be talking about that ending and the guaranteed Oscar nominated performance from Pike (Hector and the Search for Happiness, Pride & Prejudice).
On the outside and in the beginning, Nick (Affleck) and Amy (Pike) seemed like the perfect couple; they are both writers in New York with money saved up and a nice home, but the recession and two absent jobs later they are moving back to small town Missouri to take care of Nick’s dying mother. Things get worse from there; Amy wants a baby and Nick doesn’t. Amy uses her trust fund to help Nick and his twin sister Margo (Coon) open a local bar while she stays at home and plays house. On the morning of their five year anniversary Amy is missing; at home, a shattered table, blood in the kitchen, no body, no weapon--only a very calm Nick Dunne.
Fincher does a lot right in most of his films, but one thing he is always credited with is strong female roles, and never more so than here. Kim Dickens (The Gift, The Blind Side) is a longtime character actress, shoved in the background but is brought into full daylight here and steals the show when she bursts onto the scene early in the film. Dickens is written a role by Flynn that is exactly what mainstream cinema is in dire need of. All the women in this film, including and especially Pike, are not your typical heroine in need of rescue; they are strong, multileveled, ambitious and intelligent women played by terrific actors. It’s Pike and a devil of a performance that will captivate the awards circuit this year. While the film and it’s subject matter will face friendly and more attainable competition, Pike will be the sure thing come nomination day.
There are so many great elements in the film that keep you surrounded in mystery and awe throughout the course of the film that makes Fincher's running time fly by. Affleck is certainly the center piece here, and he gives one of his best performances. He certainly has experience dealing with the media, which becomes one of the film’s most important themes. How media perception can so easily sway the minds of viewers and, in many instances, even cases. Fincher and Flynn toy with that notion throughout, including the empathy for the beautiful, blond female. It’s a captivating, disturbing and relentless thriller that rarely gives you time to breathe.
Final Thought – Pike and Dickens are outstanding in this riveting and unforgiving thriller.
By: Dustin Chase
Oh, what tangled webs we weave—and some are better at it than others. Gone Girl will keep you entranced for the full 2+ hours, first with mystery, and then with high stakes charades. The plot and the characters whip up excitement and fascination aplenty, but the film is also an exposé of the media in many respects. As an aside, I hope it’s required viewing for people in that field to look at themselves.
But anyway, we see Nick (Ben Affleck) first in an acerbic mood taking off in the morning to go to work, which is a bar. He speaks familiarly with the bartender, and we later learn that it is his bar and the bartender is his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon). They are already drinking and playing a board game when he gets a call that his cat is outside. He runs home and puts her inside and calls to his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), but she is not there. The door is open, and there is an upturned coffee table with broken glass top, and he thinks maybe she was attacked, and calls the police.
Many scenes in the film are flashbacks; for instance we see the couple in the first bloom of flirtation; Amy and Nick are both beautiful looking people very much in love. We learn that this lasted for two years, then things started going south. We get one version of events in their lives from periodic entries Amy makes in her diary. When the police (Kim Dickens as Detective Boney and Officer Patrick Fugit) come to investigate the house, they discover envelopes with clues scattered around, and Nick explains that it is their anniversary, and they have a tradition of her leaving sexy clues for him to go on a chase. But more and more evidence turns up that implicates him, and it’s eventually necessary for him to get a lawyer (Tyler Perry).
The screenplay and novel on which it is based is by Gillian Flynn, and is a bit like the scavenger hunt Amy has sent her husband on for their anniversary. Each clue is written in rhyme, and fits neatly into the plot of the film. It’s complex with many threads, and although I thought I spotted some holes, for the most part, it is well thought through. David Fincher’s direction is sound—as always—and the pacing is just right.
Affleck is just as good here as he was in his movie Argo, but in a completely different role; Nick is more beset upon, is not socially adept, and is prone to making mistakes. Pike holds her own extremely well as co-star, playing a woman who is mysterious at times, but who is so complex we get varying pictures of her. Coon as Nick’s sister Margo is really fine, as is Neil Patrick Harris, but he is not onscreen very long. Kim Dickens gives the detective role special flair and mental acuity. Tyler Perry as Nick’s attorney Tanner is a high point in the film. Although Nick is not a very compliant client, we are still very much assured by Tanner’s presence.
I particularly enjoyed the thrill and mystery of most of this film; it’s just too bad there are some extended scenes at the end that seemed too over the top to keep me engaged.
A thrilling ride with chillingly expert play-acting characters.
By Donna R. Copeland