Gone Girl: It Left an Aftertaste, But Also, It Didn’t

Gone GirlThis review contains minor spoilers. 

No matter how you look at it, Gone Girl is an effective movie. It is smartly written, if houses solid performances, and it is especially well directed. It’s redundant to say this at this point, but David Fincher knows how to direct a movie. He directs this thriller about a sick marriage like a slow train. He moves at his own pace, but the force of the giant machine can still be felt. I guess there is no room for sloppiness once you’ve directed two meticulous masterpieces such as Zodiac and The Social Network. Fincher will make anything work, but as well oiled a machine as Gone Girl is, once the train has left the station, all you’re left with is an empty platform. I enjoyed Gone Girl, but I didn’t know what to make with it when the experience of watching it was over.

This is not to say that Fincher is working with bad material. Gillian Flynn adapts her own novel to the screen, and she has crafted a pretty solid story that starts out as a familiar yet unsettling thrillers, and ends up as a pulpy massacre where violence goes back and forth between the public and private life of its protagonists. Nick and Amy Dunne’s marriage seems as prefabricated as their huge Missouri house. On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick (Ben Affleck) wakes up to find out that his wife (Rosamund Pike) has mysteriously disappeared. Nick is suddenly in the vortex of a huge media story. Every single move he makes is analyzed by the public, who is growing increasingly suspicious of how calmed he seems about Amy’s disappearance.

As any good crime novel, Flynn’s Gone Girl provides a number of exciting twists and turns. It also provides a couple of hugely inspired moments. One of them comes when Nick tries to deliver a message through a television interview, the other, when the detective in charge of Amy’s case (played by a great Kim Dickens) tries to question a victim that is inconveniently, but expectedly, sheltered by the other police officers. These are moments that make me think about the questions that many critics claim the movie inspires about relationships and the media, but on the grand scheme of things I don’t really see where this critical reactions is coming from.

Gillian Flynn has been quoted as saying that she wishes the movie breaks up as many couples as possible. That’s obviously meant as an attention-grabbing line, but this is a story about two pretty despicable people in a pretty despicable marriage. She might not want to break up couples on purpose, but I certainly came out of the theater feeling uncomfortable and dirty. Like I said, the movie works. As a media satire, it’s also pretty spot on. Certainly, Gone Girl‘s best passages come when Nick and Amy decide to engage on a sort of sick competition, trying to bend the media to their will, and “win” the game that they’ve turned their relationship into.

It’s an interesting experience, no doubt about that. And it’s certainly entertaining. What bothers me is a matter of after-taste. Both positive and negative reactions to the movie had me thinking that there was going to be much to talk about, and I feel like that just isn’t the case. It might be just me, but by the end of the movie Amy was too much of an evil genius, and Nick too much of a clueless victim. I was expecting a little bit more mea to chew on in Gone Girl as far as the “battle of the sexes” was concerned, instead the movie ends up a little too close to Fatal Attraction territory for me. I still enjoyed watching it, I just don’t think it’s a great movie.

Grade: 7 out of 10

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