Movie Review #883
“GONE GIRL” MAY JUST BE THE MOST EXCITING MOVIE OF 2014.
By Alexander Diminiano
|Released October 3, 2014 (nationwide)|
|Drama, Mystery, Thriller|
|Rated R (contains a scene of graphic violence, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, profanity)|
Preface: Every word of this review is SPOILER-FREE.
I’m sure companies love product placement, at least when their products are the ones showing up. I don’t. I don’t like product placement one bit. Granted, I like pointing it out in old movies, and doing so can really put a nice grin on my face, because we don’t expect products like National Geographic to make an appearance in movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946).
And I won’t deny that I more than likely screamed when I saw Lisbeth eating McDonald’s in David Fincher’s remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011). I was fine with seeing her use her MacBook, because I’ve accepted as much as the rest of us that Apple Inc. and new world order are the exact same thing. But seeing her eat a freaking Happy Meal made me angry.
Product placement is approached differently in “Gone Girl”. Dare I say uniquely. Not since “The Gods Must Be Crazy” has product placement contributed to satire so directly. And let’s be clear that in “Gone Girl”, it’s not just a bottle of Coca-Cola. It’s a can of Diet Coke. And a Big Lots store. And a Sony TV. And FOX. And Google. And more. It’s all there, bit by bit, to stand for excessive desire, and it reinforces that theme in its central characters: an insatiable couple that seeks happiness in shallow waters when their love for each other no longer satisfies…and, in some ways, can be dissatisfying.
“Gone Girl” is based on a book by Gillian Flynn. No one other than the author herself could have written the screenplay successfully. The film establishes the conflicting points of view of its two characters and speaks to its dark criticism of the media every bit as well as the book did. The story is clearly inspired by the highly publicized murder of Laci Peterson, a California resident who went missing on Christmas Eve of 2002, when she was nearly eight months pregnant. Her husband, Scott, was convicted of her murder (as well as their unborn son’s) and has been on Death Row since March of 2005.
Rather than Scott and Laci Peterson, these are Nick and Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl”. Nick is played by Ben Affleck, who bears a striking and somewhat chilling resemblance to Scott. But the story isn’t entirely rooted in the Peterson murders. The deeper it digs down into Amy, the further the story moves away into something of its own.
Rosamund Pike plays her troubled, complicated, conniving woman rather exceptionally. She seeks removal from the boredom of her life. She craves freedom. She wants to love her husband like she loved him when they married seven years ago. Whether Amy truly loves her husband is extremely difficult to tell. There is the possibility that she does love her husband. There is also the possibility that she wants to conform, and feels that perhaps it would make her a better person to be married. Numerous other possibilities are suggested in her diary, which serves as a portion of the film’s narrative.
“Gone Girl” is replete with great performances. Tyler Perry is (to my genuine surprise) very believable in his role as Nick’s lawyer, Tanner Bolt. Better yet is Neil Patrick Harris, a spoiled brat of a grown man whose involvement in the story I won’t dare reveal. But as far as the story getting where it needs to be, the men aren’t the ones who move the story along. There’s characters we see as often as any, such as Margo Dunne, Nick’s twin sister, played smartly and eccentrically by Carrie Coon. She’s Nick’s twin, but more importantly his friend, and even more importantly, his mentor. And even characters whom we rarely see at all–such as Ellen Abbott, the enjoyably caricatured über-feminist news anchor played by Missi Pyle–affect the plot significantly.
“Gone Girl” is a thrilling movie. It fades like mad through its linear plot, through the personalities of two people who are married but couldn’t be more different from each other. It’s taut with David Fincher’s realistic, haunting fast pace. Jeff Cronenweth, a regular to the director, spins out steady, ominous cinematography. And speaking of Fincher’s regulars, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have followed their scores for “The Social Network” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” with another dynamic Oscar contender. The script develops through its characters’ disbelief and ignorance, and through their arguments. Rarely ever is there action, and if there is, be prepared for a major bloodbath. This is perhaps the most widely anticipated movie of 2014 (save for “Interstellar”) and the first greatly ambitious novel adaptation since “Life of Pi” in 2012. It’s almost too great to think that what we’ve been waiting for is really this exciting.
Note: Ben Affleck and Carrie Coon was a smart casting decision for the twin thirtysomethings in “Gone Girl”. Ben looks younger than he is, and Carrie looks older than she is. That said, I find it rather surprising that he’s 42 and she’s 33.