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Gone Girl – Joint Review


Release Date: 3rd October 2014
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Gillian Flynn [screenplay] - Gillian Flynn (novel)
Cast: Ben Affleck - Rosamund Pike - Neil Patrick Harris - Tyler Perry - Carrie Coon

Posted October 9, 2014 by

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Gone Girl – Joint Review

The taste of love is sweet; when hearts like ours meet.  I fell for you like a child; oh, but the fire went wild.

– Johnny Cash, “Ring of Fire”

Josh Adam’s Perspective:

Let’s be honest- “love” is a specific and occasionally exhilarating form of psychosis.  After all, the emotions and actions of an individual in love exhibit many of the same qualities as a person diagnosed with a mental illness.  The ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows, the praise, the harsh words, the intimacy, the lack thereof- it can be a whirlwind from which some are left literally or figuratively scarred for life.  From the viciously stated opening line to the equally bold coda, Gone Girl is a masterpiece portraiture of a relationship gone awry, perfectly capturing that inherent madness of loving, then possibly hating someone with your entire soul.  David Fincher, like he is wont to do, elevated potentially sordid and flaky material into a dark, intelligent, ‘mad’ film.  The result is the year’s best thus far.

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star as Nick and Amy Dunne, a pair that initially appears to be the perfect couple.  He’s the handsome guy with the acerbic wit, and she’s the quasi-famous trust fund baby, anxious to live a quieter life.  The first act of the film juxtaposes scenes from their happy past with increasingly disturbing scenes from their ‘present’, and catches us up with a particular morning- the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.  Nick arrives at a bar to see his sister Margo (Carrie Coon), and has a morning drink.  We get the hint that he’s not enthralled with the marriage, and he returns home to find that Amy is gone, and there appears to have been a break-in.  Nick, for all intents and purposes, is calm, cool, and collective about the situation, as it rapidly becomes a city-wide, then nationwide search for Amy.  The preponderance of evidence, neatly woven with the narrative from Amy’s diary, gently suggests that Nick may be involved- or is he?

An ongoing discussion of the plot following that last line would reveal far too much about the film, so allow me to focus instead on what this film says about men, women, their interactions, their relationships, and in essence, gender roles.  While watching this, I felt a connection with the two leads (having understood the madness myself a time or two), and how their words perfectly framed the dissolve of their union.  Nick spits out his truths like “I’m so sick of being picked apart by women”, displaying his gargantuan insecurity whilst simultaneously proving their point.  Amy ‘s diary contains sharp revelations such as “I forged the man of my dreams” and “What did he expect- unconditional love?” whilst expressing confusion and frustration about why Nick wasn’t the man he used to be.  I was transfixed by this fictional couple, and how their relationship ran the gamut of love’s emotions, resulting in what you might call the ‘anti-love story’.  As opposed to living happily ever after, Gone Girl appears more interested in the possibility that it’s not possible.  Nick and Amy created idealized images of themselves in their heads and to each other.  Over time, the pressure of upholding those images led them to a place of deep resentment, springing forth undesirable behaviors, and ultimately, well, you’ll have to watch.  Fincher and Flynn may or may not have meant to have all of those issues come through in the film, but I certainly interpreted it that way.  Sometimes, I wonder how men and women actually get together at all, considering the vast differences in presentation and interpretation the two sides have.  I believe this is a film that understands that, on a primitive level.  

Gone Girl isn’t all about Nick & Amy, however.  Fincher, again as he is wont to do, goes to an uncomfortable, dark place in order to resolve this story, and as is typical with his films, I was happy to plunge alongside him. There are a number of unexpected and harsh occurrences in the film’s third act, laced with a biting satire of today’s media frenzy surrounding any sort of story that attracts viewers.  A man suspected of killing his wife is such a story, and I love how Flynn and Fincher ape the sadistically pointless cable news shows (looking directly at you, Nancy Grace) and their insatiable quest to suck the life out of journalism.  Naturally, there’s also a part of this film that deals with an actual investigation, which is handled with intelligence and wit, mostly thanks to the relentless curiosity of Kim Dickens’ homicide detective.   

Aside from Dickens, there are standout performances throughout.  Relative newcomer Carrie Coon is flawless as Nick’s twin sister, and even Tyler Perry shines.  Perry’s casting is an especially smart choice, for when he shakes his head in disbelief at the sensational nature of the happenings around him, the audience, aware of his existing sensational nature, buys the words even more.  I’ll reserve a grand heap of praise for both Affleck (whose skill as an actor I’ve doubted many times before) and Pike, for they deserve it- both have never been better.  Affleck is at once both chill and possibly menacing, a difficult balance to achieve.  Pike is asked to pull off an incredibly varied range of performances, and aside from an interesting take on an American accent, is flawless.  Their portrayals are both daring enough to seriously merit awards consideration, if not a complete lock for Pike.

I admit to a modicum of bias toward this film, as Fincher creates films with a distinct visual style that I’m drawn to in a ‘fanboy‘ sort of way.  On the other hand, independent of my preferences, there is a menacing, psychological genius to this movie like none before it.  Oh sure, there are the films of Adrian Lyne, or The War of the Roses, and I’m sure a plethora of other pictures that I haven’t begun to understand that tackle the madness of love, but I haven’t seen anything as bold or ego-piercing as Gone Girl.  Fincher’s work continues to take chances, and he varies his subjects ever so slightly.  He may just be the best working director.  This latest effort is the best film of the year at this point, leaving the audience exhausted from their own whirlwind of emotions.  It is almost as if we’re the ones that had to experience the Dunne relationship- for I was left just as charmed, then roused, then complacent, then emotional, then enraged as the characters on-screen.  Madness, I tell you.

Written By:

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 20.59.08

Josh Adams
Freelance Contributor

Alexandra Zakharchenko’s Perspective:

No need to iterate that David Fincher is recognized genius of modernity. This time, his beautiful mind is aimed at narrating the best seller novel by Gillian Flynn. “Gone Girl” is a story about married couple, performed by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. It seems like Amy and Nick is a perfect match for each other: they are both writers, both attractive and witty. However, as every alliance, they have their skeletons to hide in the closet.

One fine morning of their fifth wedding day, Nick, gulping his “festive” drink in the bar, unburdens the heart to his twin-sister Margo (Carrie Coon). He tells how unhappy he became with Amy these last years. After making the final decision, he returns to his house and doesn’t find his wife at home anymore. With the beginning of investigation, his native home turns into the stage for performance and Nick doesn’t belong to himself anymore. He becomes the most observed and “the most hated man in America”, because everybody suspects him for a murder of his own wife.

Film shows how the story can differ depend on one’s viewpoint. The looker never sees the same as the observed one. Amy’s version is represented by her diary, which threw the light on family’s cloudy past. Nick’s assigned part is to tell the present. At some moment he realizes that it’s time to take the actions for self-defense. He gives the speech for the most popular show and like a “trained monkey” explains himself. At that very moment, for Nick who fights for his existence, everything is defined by the need to protect his being.

The fiction is not only spans the range of social problems building up in the modern society, but also unravels a mystery of the marriage. The latest developments lead Nick to self-actualization. His wife surprisingly becomes an unknown person, the real nature of which he has never tried to explore. He doesn’t know her friends, her interests, her feelings and hidden thoughts. It seems like Amy’s and Nick’s example is a prototype of large quantity of married couples. The question is where the desire to unite by conjugal ties comes from? It originates in the necessity of somebody acquainted, somebody that will become familiar and won’t frighten anymore by its obscurity.

“Gone girl” is certainly not a family therapy treatment, but it will give you some food for thought about who you are spending your life time with.

Written by:

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 02.42.45

Aleksandra Zakharchenko
Full Contributor


Matthew Reay’s Perspective:

David Fincher strikes again at our minds as he tries to disfigure and warp them as to make us think and consider the world around us. That’s just your typical Fincher esquire film though and his latest feature Gone Girl does just that. We take a trip into the world of a happy married couple at first glance until Fincher takes our hand and leads us down the dark and twisted rabbit hole to show the true face of relationships, marriage and people’s minds.

Gone Girl stars Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne who’s wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has suddenly disappeared. As the police enter the world to investigate with detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) leading the case we soon discover that things aren’t as they seem. With other appearances from Carrie Coon as Affleck’s sister Go and Neil Patrick Harris playing the creepy Desi Collings, it’s Tyler Perry as lawyer Tanner Bolt who really kicks it into gear as he drops the comedy and goes for drama.

It’s typical of Affleck to shine in the lead role but another star who barely makes a scrape in film these days is Rosamund Pike who plays the role of the stand out character, the wife. Rosamund Pike takes the character of Amy and just becomes her, it’s a very natural and slightly eerie way she just takes it all in and accepts it. And the two Dunne’s are the main feature of this story. Our focus is on them and their relationship, their marriage and how their entire world is falling apart but the story of Amy and the disappearing act is all just a second story when really what lies beneath all the tales, demise and intrigue is a couple who are very much struggling.

That’s the interesting fact about this film, it’s layers. We have the characters who are all equally interesting and good in their own right with all their individual things and stories going on. We have the story of ‘the gone girl’ the missing in action Amy Dunne. We have the huge backstory of Amy’s past, her parents and how they neatly fit into the story and lives of the couple but once we pull all that back and really look at what lies before us we have the making of a couple in distress. Every relationship has its struggles, ups and downs and we witness one right there and then.

It’s David Fincher who has taken the jigsaw of the novel and placed it all together, piecing it bit by bit. His view on the relationship and the way he executes it all is perfect. The cinematography, as always in Fincher’s work, gives off an eerie dark tone which draws you in for further investigation as if it’s clung onto you and dragging you to the dark depths of which Gone Girl goes. He’s made it a twisted, dark, fantasy and ditches the romantic feel of typical movies along similar lines. The soundtrack is just another impressive mark made in the film world as it’s tones just amp up the focus of the two main characters. It makes you squirm and not want to be there. You don’t want to watch but just like the media in the film, we have to. We have to be there and we have to see because as Fincher nails it perfectly, we are humans and we are very curious. Just like so many of the characters in the film getting involved with Nick Dunne and his missing wife, they all swoop in offering help and support when really they’re all just nosy, not actually caring and spot on, is that not what we are all like in some way? Just curious people?

The story structure has been brought to life just like the book where we cut from one chapter of Amy’s diary to another of Nick Dunne in the present and this is really where we get an in depth look into the life of Nick and Amy Dunne. We get a glimpse and as it yes brief but understanding of their past, how they met, how they became. All the typical of a relationship start. It works and the element of the diary was something I thought which might be dropped from the film.

So Gone Girl is a dark, masterful piece of filmmaking which has brought the typical Fincher style to the screen yet again. It’s a mix of his lighter toned work like The Social Network and the darker elements from his earlier work Seven as if the two have crossed paths with the psychological and the disturbing making the creative piece Gone Girl. This is one of this years top films and a must see. It’s drama at it’s best but don’t let the running time get you down because you’re so involved, it passes you by.


Written By:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 22.37.10

Matthew Reay
Freelance Contributor


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