Mar 16, 2015

[Movies] Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl was one of those movies that a lot of people were talking about but for one reason or another we never quite got around to things soon enough. I don't have a good reason for delaying. I guess with all the sources of stress of daily life, we often turn to lighter entertainment fare during our limited free time.

But we finally addressed this gap recently and I feel all the better for it. Minor questions about casting aside, this was a pretty great movie and one with a nicely complex story at its heart. Sure. the big reveal may not have been 100% surprising depending on how you look at things, but it was still a fulfilling twist in the story, which is all we can expect from things.

Then again, this is another movie based on a book, and so that tends to provide strong source material. Still, it takes a skilled director to see things through and translate those words into something special. And that's what this movie ends up being.

Synopsis: Gone Girl is a 2014 psychological thriller movie directed by David Fincher. The screenplay was written by Gillian Flynn, based on the novel of the same name that he also wrote.

On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is surprised to find that their house is empty and a single table seems to have been overturned. There are no other signs of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), who is also famous given she was the inspiration for her parents' children's book series Amazing Amy. Naturally her disappearance gets a lot of media coverage in turn and this inevitably shines the light of suspicion on Nick. And the fact that he doesn't seem to be significantly affected by her disappearance in his media appearances is what drives public speculation about his involvement.

Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) is put in charge of the investigation and slowly but surely she starts to reveal a different picture about the nature of Nick and Amy's supposedly fairy tale marriage. One key point involves the two getting into financial trouble some time back when both of them lost their jobs and their life direction together got a little shaky. All these unusual stories combined with strange evidence located at Nick and Amy's house seems to indicate that this is more than just a disappearance. At the same time, Nick tries to follow the clues that were supposed to be part of this year's anniversary present (a tradition for the couple), which may also reveal more about Amy's last whereabouts before her disappearance.

The build up for the story in this movie feels nicely measured. I wouldn't even say that it's gradual or that it's slow - it happens at a pace that feels like it has clear purpose and reason for every single step in the process. And that's exactly what this story needed - it needed to be crafted by someone with a keen eye for detail. Given how events unfold, it all makes perfect sense and thus how the movie was made nicely reflects what really happens here.

The movie is actually a little lengthy at 149 minutes and in many ways it feels like you're watching two movies. It really depends on how you look at things and how you try to anticipate the plot. Is Amy really missing? Is Nick really innocent of any wrongdoing? Are the revelations discovered by the police all true? And the best narrative device that was added into the mix is that the movie is somewhat narrated using Amy's journal entries starting from the time that she and Nick first met. And thus how these narrative interludes compare and contrast against the on-going investigation all add interesting shades of color to things.

Ben Afleck felt like an odd casting choice for one reason or another. I can't fully put my finger on why I feel this way, but I did feel his performance felt a little inconsistent here. Sure, he has to play a concerned husband who doesn't seem to be visibly affected by his wife's disappearance and that can be pretty messed up. But my discomfort with his performance goes a little beyond that and it just feels like a casting choice that I disagree with.

Rosamund Pike on the other hand is amazingly brilliant. Amy is a complex figure - you can't imagine what it's like to have inspired a series of series of popular children's books. What is even more complicated is that it seems the Amazing Amy book character was written as a sort of wish fulfillment version of Amy's real life. Things that she did not accomplish in her youth, Amazing Amy managed to do. And it was revealed that Amazing Amy was written to be getting married even before Amy herself must have been a strange twist.

Thus the whole movie comes together in a complex layering of possible outcomes that can make your head spin a bit. It's hard to determine who is really telling the truth until things really come together mid-way through the movie. But then that turns out to be a bit of a fake out and the depths of complexity behind the story, the characters and all that good stuff.

Gone Girl is a great movie and one that feels a lot more compelling as a mystery than most traditional detective-style mystery stories. And I really enjoyed it from story to execution and it made for a great movie experience. Thus the movie gets a good 4 surprise details in Amy's journal out of a possible 5.

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