Reviews and other Features: Gone Girl

Gone Girl film poster

Gone Girl may well be the trickiest film I ever have to review. I’m sure I am in good company. How can you talk much about an intricately-plotted, fast-paced film without ruining the constantly shocking twists and turns for those that haven’t seen it?

Published only two years ago, it was no surprise that Gillian Flynn’s bestselling phenomenon Gone Girl would make it’s way to the screen so quickly. Ever since it was announced that Flynn herself would be writing the script, David Fincher would direct, Reese Witherspoon would be among the producers and that an impressive cast would star, the hype has been in overdrive.

And the film doesn’t disappoint, with the action being ramped up from the start. Nick arrives back to his house with his front door wide open and a living room showing evidence of an apparent struggle. Amy is missing and everyone is bewildered as to where she could be and who could have taken her.

Gone Girl scene

The hunt to find her is every bit as tense and gripping as you would expect. Helped out by fast-pacing and sharp editing, Fincher masterfully generates a claustrophobic feel, of being stared and scrutinised at every turn of events. Flynn’s script enables us to sense the anxieties and mixed emotions of characters within a small town instantly thrown into a national spotlight, unsure of who to trust and what to believe. The role of the media is one of the most fascinating aspects of the film, and it is effectively making us a character and asking us how we would act. It really is a reminder that in the 21st century, we all have the notorious possibility of becoming a 24 hour news sensation. We can all all have the realms of our past and personality traits thrown into everyone’s living room and seemingly nowhere to hide.

But even with such a great premise and great work behind the camera, ultimately this is a film that relies heavily on the main two stars. Pike is a revelation, fully embracing such a complex, intelligent and vulnerable character. It is performances like this that get you entry into the A-list bracket and star turns at Oscar ceremonies. Affleck is superb too, a mature performance showcasing the awkwardness, bitterness and fear that reside within Nick. There is strong support from a cast including Carrie Coon as Nick’s bewildered sister, Kim Dickens as a detective caught between trusting the evidence and her instinct and Tyler Perry as the suave lawyer who knows just how to play the game.

Gone girl missing scene

The film’s only real drawback is the performance of Neil Patrick Harris, best known for his memorable, and Emmy award-winning role, of Barney Stinson in How I met your Mother. Understandably keen to showcase a wider, and non-comic range, his performance of Amy’s former boyfriend Desi Collins lacks the presence set by Pike and Affleck. While far from disastrous, Harris’ flat portrayal fails to fully maximise just how creepy Collins is and the motives behind them.

A welcome addition to the high-profile and highly anticipated thriller adapted to the big screen, Gone Girl works provides all kind of provocative questions about society, about family, and most importantly, about relationships. The writer Stephen Chbosky has said that we get the love we think we deserve. The film, like the book, brilliantly challenges us to think about the consequences when we push too hard.

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22 thoughts on “Reviews and other Features: Gone Girl

  1. I really want to see this movie but I’m listening to the audio book…or trying to. I don’t really like how the book is written..maybe I’d like it if I actually read it vs listening but I can’t hold a book so I’m forced to go to audio. I might just skip that and see the movie because I love movies like this!

    • It does have a narrative structure that probably doesn’t lend itself so well to listening, I imagine. Does it have two readers? I think you’l like the movie. I’ve listened to a few audios, but only ever autobiographies. I pretend they’re narrating it like we are in a dining room together or something.

  2. I read the book and saw the movie, therefore there were no surprises as far as the story goes. I found Pike really good, but Affleck was a bit blah… Gillian Flynn, with only 3 books is a hell of a good writer!!

    • It was an impressive script adaptation. I’ve heard good things about Flynn’s other works too. I did like Affleck but he has chosen poorly more than a few times so doesn’t help himself. Interesting to see where Pike goes from here.

  3. Excellent review, my friend! You already know I feel very much the same way about this one. Such a well-done film with a phenomenal cast. I seem to be one of the very few people who wasn’t really bothered by NPH’s performance, but I suppose I can understand why a lot of people were–especially if they’ve read the book’s and had an idea of the character before going into the film. But hey, if that is this film’s only major qualm, that’s not too bad! Lol. Fingers crossed that Pike gets that Oscar nom!!!

    • I hope she gets it too. She has to cover such a range in the film. I do rate Harris as a comic actor, but doubt he can do a darker role to the same level. It stands out more in the film, as everyone else is on top form.

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