I was very impressed with the new release Gone Girl, which I caught today at Royal Oak’s Emagine complex alongside a nearly sold out crowd.
It is difficult to construct a review around films that rely on plot surprises, and this one includes multiple twists and turns. So I will try to single out a few notable elements from the movie as a whole.
Ben Affleck shows he’s fully back in business from his comeback with a commanding, persuasive performance. The actor doesn’t shy from testing the viewer’s allegiances at multiple junctures in the story, and carries the film on his shoulders with a new maturity and complexity. He benefits from multiple scene partners and story angles throughout the movie, not only with lead co-star Rosamund Pike but also actresses Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens, who I was not familiar with.
Rosamund Pike has seemingly flown under the US radar for quite awhile; I remember seeing her featured in the James Bond film Die Another Day way back in 2002. Here she gets to show everything her acting skills are made of, in a multifaceted role that requires sex appeal, stature, cunning and dexterity in multiple ways. Pike passes the test and also shifts the viewer’s allegiances throughout the story, creating an intense and highly memorable 360 degree character portrait.
The entire supporting cast seemed to be carefully chosen to bring something unique to the screen and how the story is told. The aforementioned Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens do excellent work, with Coon and Affleck getting multiple scenes to play an intriguing sibling dynamic. Popular filmmaker Tyler Perry appears in a serious role, and seems to be having fun with the experience, bringing a sharp mix of focus and brevity to his scenes. Neil Patrick Harris makes a rare screen appearance and also gets to flex his dramatic muscles.
Director David Fincher continues his mastery of film with this release. He also offers small nods to several of his previous projects (IMO) or a clear evidence of evolving cinematic vision. Fincher again invited Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to compose the film’s score, but this time, I felt that the two composers were not as on the ball as their Academy Award winning work in The Social Network. Their score is distractingly under tracked for multiple two person scenes which might have played more effectively without accompaniment. It still bears their unique industrial sound, and there are segments that stand out.
I detected a possible satirical element to some segments of the film, and found it unusual that as the story went along, it became a commentary on 2014 media obsessions. Not sure if that was a directorial or writer intention.
Author Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel here, and where she purposefully constructed the film version in a different way than how the story unfolds in the novel, it makes me intrigued to read it. Her dialogue moves the film along at a brisk pace, though Fincher might bring a more kinetic orientation than another filmmaker. However, Flynn shows her expertise in stacking and switching the narrative, which (I speak from experience) requires careful planning and sharp focus.