Sunday, October 12, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014
There's a particular shot, or shots I should say, from David Fincher's newest film that has stuck with me. The first part is a flashback to when Nick and Amy Dunne (played by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) had just met. Nothing but good intentions and a bubbly school-kid love between them. Amy leans in to kiss him, and the shot is quickly juxtaposed with Nick being examined by doctor at the police station with a tongue press. He gags on it. The juxtaposition perfectly encapsulates Nick's feelings about his marriage. The kiss to the gagging. He went from a love-stricken kid to a petrified husband with his balls held firmly by his rhymes-with-witch of a wife. One could even interpret it as a metaphor for marriage itself. It's a fairly low-key technique Fincher used, but an incredibly smart and effective one. With Gone Girl, David Fincher gets as fun and pulpy he's been since The Game and still is able to elevate his material to more than just a clever genre film. Gone Girl is based on the 2012 novel of the same name. It's a book I regretfully haven't read, I honestly don't mind. The film works perfectly fine without the flashy reveals and shocking twists, but experiencing those for the first time in clear and bloody celluloid is a devilishly wonderful pleasure of its own. Gone Girl is a man's horrible claustrophobic nightmare that quickly escalates into a psycho-sexual thriller of proportions just insane enough to work. Practically every element of this movie clicks excellently. My only real issue with it was some oddly stilted dialogue in the beginning, mainly in the flashbacks to the early relationship of Nick and Amy. The rest of the movie was terrifically written, so I wasn't exactly sure why those early beginning scenes felt so wrong. On further thought, I realized it's because it IS wrong. It shows that even from the start, the relationship between Nick and Amy Dunne is shaky at best. Their interactions aren't thoughtful or genuine. Amy is hiding behind a veneer and Nick is under her sway. Of course their dialogue is stilted, it's just a reflection of their relationship. Gillian Flynn may be writing a trashy crime picture, but damn can she do it well. It certainly doesn't hurt to have the people attached that the film does. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike give magnificent and incendiary performances as the two main characters. Affleck has officially proved himself a terrific actor (not that he needed to) and gives a fantastic controlled performance here. Throughout the film you can see his character being trapped in by the media and by everyone around him. Watching Affleck act you can really sense the tension and social claustrophobia that surround his character like a suffocating cosmic blanket. He gives such a great performance, that I was easily able to forget how famous he is. As great as Ben Affleck is here, Rosamund Pike is the real star here. She's always been an incredibly solid actress (ex. The World's End) but has never gotten a real chance to shine. I don't know if Gone Girl is David Fincher's masterpiece, but I think it's safe to say it is for Pike. She plays innocent, evil, manipulative, and sexy like no actress I've ever seen. The best comparison I can make is maybe Barbara Stanwyck or Eva Green. If she doesn't get an Oscar nomination, I will be shocked. Again, of course having Fincher behind the camera always helps things. This isn't his best work, but it's definitely up there. It's no Zodiac, but it doesn't need to be. Gone Girl is a different type of movie. One major complaints from Fincher detractors is that he often employs the style-over-substance technique of filmmaking. That's a remarkably off-base thing to say about his films, especially this one. Fincher uses his camera to create a tone so palpable you could cut it with a knife. You can really feel his talent oozing out of this movie. It's wonderful. The movie has loads to say about the intricacies and failings of modern marriage. It's certainly a cynical take, but a bitingly interesting one at that. Flynn also takes a satiric look at media. Imagine Natural Born Killers but a helluva lot more subtle about its satire. In my mind, Gone Girl is Blue Velvet, meets a killer-woman grindhouse picture, meets neo-noir. And it's all done so, so well. Subverting our views of modern society, and giving us a delicious murder story as cinematically filling as a thick steak. Is Gone Girl one of the year's best films? You bet.