Gone Girl – Station Screening Notes (November 2014)

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“How was  your marriage Nick?”

Bar owner Nick (Ben Affleck) arrives home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing, furniture overturned, and blood on the floor. As the police investigate Nick becomes the prime suspect. Especially in the court of public opinion when his poor handling of media appearances make him seem unsympathetic. Perhaps a man with something to hide. In contrast Amy is already a public figure thanks to a beloved series of books her father wrote based on her childhood called Amazing Amy. She is the beautiful, lost, perfect wife, while he is the mooch living off her money and sleeping around.

Director David Fincher’s films can often feel like stylistic exercises, see the clockwork tension of Panic Room (2003), or his disturbing but empty adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). At his best however his work moves beyond efficiency and incorporates grander themes. The religious overtones of the unfairly maligned Alien 3 (92), the anarchic anti-consumerism of Fight Club (99), or the implication in the Aaron Sorkin scripted Facebook movie The Social Network (2010) that technology only provides the illusion of being close to other people. Zodiac (2007), arguably his best film is a haunting procedural about the doomed search for one of America’s most notorious serial killers and the effect it had on those involved. Comfort is rarely found in Fincher’s movies making him the perfect choice to Gillian Flynn’s pulpy 2012 novel Gone Girl.

The film moves between the past and the present as we see their relationship deteriorate over a five year period. From the early days as a loved-up couple to the growing resentment of two people who have surrendered their futures to each other. Gillian Flynn adapts her own novel here and her screenplay makes this story darker and more satirical targeting the media circus which surrounds cases like these and presenting a nightmarish vision of a marriage gone awry. Affleck is adept at playing hopeless douches who are confused by women and Nick feels like a middle-aged version of the geek who begins a doomed romance with a bisexual comic book artist in Chasing Amy (97, Kevin Smith). Yet much angrier. Affleck can switch from calm to rage quicker than any actor around. Prior to Gone Girl Pike was best known for appearing in the Bond movie Die Another Day (2002) and since then has been largely wasted in workmanlike period dramas until now. The biggest revelation though is comedian Tyler Perry as a Johnny Cochran type lawyer at once shocked and amused at the behaviour of these rich entitled white people. 

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