There are two sides to every story, and director David Fincher does his damnest to make sure you’re fully engrossed in both sides.
Whether or not you’ve read Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl (I haven’t), fans of the novel attest that the film adaptation doesn’t stray far from it’s source material. When Amy Dunne mysteriously goes missing, her husband becomes the central focus of her disappearance during a media blitz covering her story.
There’s a lot of meat to the core of the story as well as debate–is this a misogynist film, does it have a misanthropic view on marriage? Gone Girl may have sparked questions and raised a few eyebrows, but it has unanimously garnered praise from moviegoers; I haven’t really heard a single complaint on the Internet about this film. While it’s not my favorite Fincher flick, it’s strengths outweigh it’s weaknesses. This is a smart film that’s going to make you think, have you talking about it for a while and leave you fully unsettled with what you just watched. Here are my top reasons to see Gone Girl.
If Gone Girl accomplishes anything perfectly, it captures the blatant satire of the media in our lives controlling how we base our decisions on personal affairs. Is Nick Dunne a murderer or a framed husband? The media becomes a villain against Dunne who is framed by his wife in an elaborate scheme. In order to protect himself and salvage his innocence, Dunne must manipulate the media with the help of his suave, big-shot attorney Tanner Bolt (well-executed by Tyler Perry). When media coverage of Dunne’s mistress breaks, Dunne sets up an exclusive interview with NCB personality Sharon Schieber (played by Sela Ward). Dunne uses television as a platform for viewers around the country to believe in his innocence. He morphs into a trained professional at tackling critical media scrutiny–he learns a script, masters how to use appropriate movement in conversation and even grasps how to emotionally express believable sorrow. He uses the media not only to admit his infidelities and his guilt over losing Amy, but as a platform to reach out to Amy and acknowledge her kidnapper. Nick Dunne becomes a trained pro at how to play the media game, and Ben Affleck scores at embodying this claiming to have modeled his character on convicted killer Scott Peterson.
Underneath most of the well-written screenplays for Fincher films is a pitch-black humor that arouses uneasy laughter from audiences. The cat and mouse game plays out accordingly, but outside of the obvious smirks we give (like listening to the Nancy Grace-inspired TV personality), there a few lines that had me cracking up, but also made me re-think what the hell was going on? Modern America is terribly dark, and how well-suited to add humor to the verbage of this script. Hilarious quotes include:
- Tanner Bolt: “You two are the most fucked up people I’ve ever met and I deal with fucked up people for a living.”
- Nick Dunne: [to Amy] “You. Fucking. Bitch.”
- Margo Dunne: “Whoever took her is bound to bring her back.”
- “A lot of people lacked that gift: knowing when to fuck off.”
Let’s get one thing straight–I typically hate trailers, but I loathed every commercially released teaser for Gone Girl. Too obvious? Exactly! But that’s what Fincher wants, and he succeeds. The trailer is selling Ben Affleck’s character as the murderer and Rosamund Pike’s character as the victim, because it looks believable. Media selling a lie? Bingo! Everyone anticipated some colossal twist, but little did we know how early in the film it would be and to what extent it would take. It far surpasses the norm and digs deeper and deeper until the end. Your mind will be blown.
Rosamund – Who? is likely the reaction of many viewers, but believe it or not, Pike’s been in the business for years now. What you’re experiencing is her big break in Hollywood. The British beauty was a Bond girl in Die Another Day, the eldest Bennet daughter in Pride and Prejudice and (my favorite) the party girl from An Education. She won the sought after lead role that was considered for the likes of Reese Witherspoon to Charlize Theron to Natalie Portman.
“To prepare for the role of Amy, Pike enrolled in Fincher movie boot camp: 10 weeks of pre-production for the 106-day shoot that crisscrossed between Missouri and Los Angeles. As in all of the director’s pictures, actors were subjected to repeated takes. ‘He’s not doing it because he thinks you’re crap,’ she says. ‘He’s giving you this gift, and allowing you to divest all your baggage.’ She was proud of a bruise on her leg in one scene, but another bump incurred during a fight with Nick nearly gave her a concussion. ‘I think probably around take 18 of getting my head bashed against the wall, I literally saw stars,’ she says. The first assistant director had to intervene. Pike never toiled so hard. First, she had to channel Amy’s voice, an American upper-class, East Coast timbre reminiscent of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. She re-watched Basic Instinct, concentrating on Sharon Stone, and To Die For, where the Nicole Kidman anchor served as a prototype.” Rosamund Pike via Variety
Fincher always has powerful characters portrayed by brilliant actors. What’s great about his actors is that, like Rosamund Pike, many of them are obscure or more underground delivering an extraordinary performance that Fincher yanks out of them. Even the likes of ordinary Ben Affleck can perform well under the guide of Fincher, and I’m not one of Affleck’s biggest fans.
According to Every Frame A Painting’s Tony Zhou, it’s not about what Fincher does onscreen; it’s all about what he doesn’t do that makes his filmmaking exceptional. Even if Fincher produces another book-to-film adaptation, I’ll see it because it’s a Fincher film, and I know he has the power to create a masterpiece out of even the most drab material.
“Asked to list ‘perfect’ movies, he named Chinatown, and he sure loves a Chinatown ending. He says the studio wanted a ‘Fatal Attraction ending’ for Se7en, where the detectives confront John Doe just as he is murdering Gwyneth Paltrow’s character. Fincher recalled his attempt to convince the studio that his way was much better: ‘No, it’s better that she dies! She’s been dead for fourteen hours! She dies offscreen, horribly.’ He says he loves a Hollywood ending sometimes, but feels that usually when the good guy gets the bad guy and saves the day at the end ‘it’s not that satisfying, is it?’ David Fincher via Grantland