‘Gone Girl’ Powerfully Acted, Capably Executed Thriller

Gone_Girl_Poster                Do you smell that? It’s the smell of Oscar Season returning to grace us with its presence, and it is brought upon by director David Fincher’s newest film, “Gone Girl”.

On the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick (Ben Affleck) arrives home to find his house in shambles and his wife (Rosamund Pike) missing. When the media begins to put the spotlight on him, the police and American public start to wonder if Nick is an innocent victim, or a killer? Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry also star.

It is hard to say why “Gone Girl” is a good film without spoiling anything. In fact it is hard to really talk at all about this film without giving away one of its many twists. But it’s my job, so here we go.

The always reliable David Fincher, who directed films ranging cult classics “Fight Club” and “Se7en” to the fantastic “Social Network” and American version of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, directs “Gone Girl” in such a stepped-back, impartial way that at times you forget you are watching a movie. It is almost like you are simply watching events unfold, and you do not know who to trust.

Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, as well as penned the screenplay for the movie, has such a way with words that she is able to work in moments of dark humor that just feel natural. Sometimes in movies characters are deadly serious all the time and it almost takes you out of the film, but never with “Gone Girl”. It makes sure to have a little strategically placed bits of humor or lightheartedness just when a moment may be getting too serious or stale.

If you hear anything about the film, it will likely be one of two things: Rosamund Pike’s performance, or the twists. This film has more twists than a pastry from Cinnabon. At first they are small things, like the police finding a clue, but as the film goes on, they get more and more elaborate and hit harder and harder, until the ultimate punch to the stomach in the film’s final moments.

As for Pike, there is so much that could be said but I’ll keep it brief. As she narrates the film via her diary passages and flashbacks, we see at first the fairytale marriage that she and Affleck have, but then how they begin to become more and more distant, until finally she begins to fear her own husband. It is a multi-layered performance that is sure to earn her award talk.

Now as much as the film wants to front itself as a brilliant Oscar contender, there are some glaring flaws. The first act of the film, when police are collecting initial clues and samples and Affleck is doing interviews, can drag a little, as we aren’t really learning anything new or earth shattering, but still are sitting through it all. It is a little like watching a behind-the-scenes, paperwork-only edition of “Law and Order”, just with more awkward pacing. The film may also leave some viewers, including myself, craving a better delivery of the climax.

“Gone Girl” is a perfectly cast, capably directed film that just suffers from some narrative and pacing issues, as well as a possible weak finale. That being said, it is an engrossing, dark and intelligent, and may leave your brain hurting when the credits start to roll. Is “Gone Girl” as entertaining or memorable as it wants to be? No. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come close.

Critics Rating: 7/10

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