There’s a compulsion to make Gone Girl something it isn’t because David Fincher directed it. It’s a trashy novel turned into a movie and all the pedigree in the world isn’t going to change that. A-List actors, acclaimed composers, and the most mathematically creative filmmaker working certainly help elevate the material but accepting Gone Girl as anything but a wacky thriller is doing it a great disservice.
Gone Girl is crazy in mostly all the right ways. It’s crazy to have a major twist well into the film that leads down an even more crazy rabbit hole of ideas. It’s crazy to cast Tyler Perry in a major role and then allow him to actually be good in it. It’s crazy to put the lion’s share of the drama on the back of an actress who’s never been known as a major talent only to reveal that she is a major taleny. It’s crazy to have a leading man who still carries tremendous audience baggage despite having done nothing but make fantastic movies for the past ten years. It’s crazy. Brilliantly so. It’s way more effort than a book like this should ever deserve and it showcases that the business is evolving in a way which allows for material that isn’t a sequel, remake, or kid’s film to have a valuable theatrical life.
Based on the book by Gillian Flynn [a former Entertainment Weekly contributor, something they only mention twice an issue over the past three years], Gone Girl tells the story of a missing person’s case from both sides. From the husband [Affleck] whose public perception ebbs and flows with each new piece of evidence, and from the missing wife [Rosamund Pike] speaking to the audience through her personal journal as it dictates the descent of a marriage. They’re the nuclear aughts couple, damaged by their ambition and crushed by the economy, and chained to their entitlement. But they aren’t bad people, at least when the film begins. As the film disengages from expectations all bets are off. To speak on the twists is unfair but suffice it to say that there’s a refreshing feel to the film thanks to its director’s impeccable choices and the joy of seeing some really fun alterations to the standard thriller formula.
Affleck is fantastic here. It’s a much more nuanced role than it appears and without any big actorly speeches or emotional breakdowns the actor is able to add shade without making it look like he’s trying too hard. He is funny, menacing, soft, confused, and just complex enough to help the audience be at odds with his degree of guilt. It’s a role that won’t get him attention but he holds the center in a way he never has before. As good as Affleck is, Pike is better. Often relegated to the eye candy or exposition role in features, the actress showcases great depth here especially considering how differently she factors into the narrative flow. It’s not a voiceover role. It’s a role that demands a great deal from her and whether she’s a victim, a supremely sexy partner, or someone trying to survive suburbia the actress is a revelation. So much so that she could be a contender for some major awards. Additionally Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, and Carrie Coon deliver terrific supporting work.
It’s a cheeseburger treated like a filet and it’s a film that’ll stick with you thanks to clever sleight of hand and a few moments that beg for a revisit. It’s wicked and funny and a good satire on how we process news and snap to judgement. About how we as a collective are suckers for what we see on the television and a lifetime of absorbed media stimuli. That’s why David Fincher is one of the best we’ve ever had. To weave gold out of shit.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars