Kyle J. Steenblik

Gone Girl strikes a hair-raising minor chord

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gone-girl-GG__FIN_LIGHT_DOM_rgbDavid Fincher’s latest film Gone Girl is magnificent for a surprising multitude of reasons.  Days after watching I am still thinking about this movie, mulling over Fincher’s construction and portrayal of Gillian Flynn’s story.  By the end of the film, I can see all the pieces, and where they fit, but for some reason I still wonder how all those pieced were assembled.  I suppose it is similar to seeing a fully assembled house frame.  If you didn’t watch the framers stand up the walls, and drop the roof joists into place you might just find its assembly mysterious.  Long story short that is how I feel when I watch one of David Fincher’s films, I walk away mystified with the final product.  I both love and hate David Fincher for that.

On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns to his home to find his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has vanished under suspicious circumstances. Detective Rhonda Boney(Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) arrive at the home and immediately spot signs of foul play.  Nick slowly becomes the primary suspect in Amy’s disappearance and suspected murder.  The media frenzy surrounding the case soon envelops both Nick, and his sister Margo (Carrie Coon), as everyone begins to suspect the worst.  The ensuing storm soon reaches Amy’s former boyfriend Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), and famous criminal defense attorney Tanner Blot (Tyler Perry) while everyone starts asking: Why did Nick Dunne kill his wife.

Perfectly cast and performed each cast member brings with them a piece of the story.  Police officers Boney and Gilpin, played by Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit, act as a type of barometer, or weather vane in the film.  In the first half of the film, they propel the story, while in the third act they are reduced to spectators with the rest of the audience.  The film would have stalled without these two effortlessly pushing the action forward through the first act.  I would say Carrie Coon and Neil Patrick Harris filled had similar functions, although to a lesser extent.  As far as performances go, Rosamund Pike handled the lion’s share with a performance that was diverse and chilling.

The overall construction of this film is incredible.  David Fincher leads the audience through every step, giving us just enough information at just the right time, carefully sculpting characters as the film progresses.  The progression of the characters is such that as a viewer it seems like how you feel about each character has already been decided, as if there is only one way to feel at any given point in time.  We are not allowed to jump to concussions, speculate, or deviate from the given course.  It is masterfully manipulative and it works on every level, from the breakneck editing to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score.   The other side of this coin is that I walked away feeling that manipulation, it wasn’t a good feeling for me.   I prefer to make my own decisions and come to my own concussions.  It is almost out of spite that I decided not to give this the perfect score it deserves.

Gone Girl: 4.5 out of 5.  Directed by David Fincher, Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon, and Neil Patrick Harris.  Rated R for bloody violence, strong sexual content and nudity, and language.  

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