**** (out of 5)
October 3, 2014
Ben Affleck as NICK DUNNE
Rosamund Pike as AMY DUNNE
Neil Patrick Harris as DESI COLLINGS
Tyler Perry as TANNER BOLT
Carrie Coon as MARGO DUNNE
Kim Dickens as DETECTIVE RHODA BONEY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: David Fincher
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Even though I have enjoyed some of David Fincher’s movies – and some like “Zodiac” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” have topped my best-of-the-year lists – I am not one of those people who believes he can do no wrong. While all of his films are meticulously made, I have not been a huge fan of some of his most respected works (including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network,” which looked nice but really didn’t do it for me).
So, I did not approach “Gone Girl” with the expectation of any level of quality, aside from Fincher’s always-present perfectionism seen in the nuts and bolts of the production.
I was also quite surprised with the pop fiction undertone of the film. While plenty of people will cite more esoteric literary elements of the story, including dishonesty and the intrusive and manipulative nature of the media, at its core, “Gone Girl” is a very well done piece of disposable fiction.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Not everything a top director in Hollywood does needs to be deep and pretentious. Sometimes we just want a good story that keeps our interest. And this is exactly what we get with “Gone Girl.” It’s really nothing more than an exceptional Lifetime made-for-TV movie with incredible production value, slick cinematography, solid acting performances and elements that will keep you thinking long after the credits roll.
Based on the best-selling book of the same name, “Gone Girl” tells the story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing. As the investigation into her disappearance proceeds, and amid greater scrutiny from the police and the media, some people start to wonder if Nick is in fact responsible.
Trust me, there’s a lot more to it than just this ten-minute set-up. There are many layers to the movie, and for the most part, they work well together. However, to dig deeper into the story would betray some excellent on-screen moments that should take you by surprise.
If there is any triumph from this film that rises above the rest, it is the performances we get from the cast. I’ve always known that Affleck can show some serious acting chops if given the right director, and Fincher pulls a fantastic performance from him, offering a perfect mixture of smugness and deer-in-the-headlights innocence. In a similar – and more surprising turn – Tyler Perry really stands out at the high-priced defense attorney. Perry has never been known for being a good actor, and I’m not ready to hand him any statuette, but he gives something more than his self-supporting roles against Madea.
Still, the real star of the film is the roundabout title character, played by Rosamund Pike. A dozen years ago, I wasn’t wild about her, but as she has matured as an actress, I have grown quite fond of Pike as an actor. She gives a nuanced performance and manages to convey a range of emotions and appearances that make her stand out more than just as a face on a milk carton.
I have not read the original book (though I did discover my wife had, and had a bit of a worry about that knowing she never told me she did), but I understand the film is very true to the source material. It may not be the most satisfying film when all is said and done – and if you think too hard about it afterwards, you’ll find massive plot holes that never get resolved – but for a slice of disposable fiction done with an expert hand, “Gone Girl” is quite entertaining.