Gone Girl (USA, 2014)

Made it to the movies! A rare treat.

Gone Girl is a twisty mystery/psychological thriller. Wife disappears apparently kidnapped, but some things don’t add up, and husband has secrets. Director David Fincher underplays everything, including his directorial style – it felt to me like he was taking some of the moves from Zodiac (probably his masterpiece) and playing them more broadly, without the obsessive control that gave many sequences of that film their power.

Film has a big wrenching swerve in the middle, and becomes quite a different beast thereafter. Felt to me that the film overplayed its hand here, partly the fault of novel author Gillian Flynn adapting her own work. It had more endings than Return of the King and would be a better movie with almost the entire last half hour simply cut. I also didn’t find the emotional resonance that other viewers and critics have reported – it had disappeared too far into its own reality for that.

For all these grumbles, it is definitely entertaining and I’d unhesitatingly recommend it.

This review has SPOILERS from here…

The chief failure for me was the film’s attempt to set up some kind of moral equivalence between the sins of Nick and those of Amy, and to locate those within an interrogation of the idea of marriage. Those are some interesting questions but they don’t work if you make Amy a less realistic character than Hannibal Lecter. The revelation that Amy was alive and was planning everything – her insanely detailed lists and plans and their expected outcome of Nick’s execution – instantly framed the character as a nearly cartoonish villain, and I still enjoyed the film with that in mind, but you’d probably find an equally good examination of marriage in those Stepfather movies.

3 thoughts on “Gone Girl (USA, 2014)”

  1. I haven’t seen this yet (though I enjoyed the book) but I thought the first Stepfather movie was at least a good counterpoint to the rabidly misogynist and Reaganite Fatal Attraction.

  2. I think it’s important to recognise the B-movie/Pulp roots of Gone Girl in evaluating it. It’s clearly not intended as realist fiction and signals its meta-narrativity in a lot of ways, such as the in-fiction fictionalisation of Amy by her parents. I think that if you watch it amongst other neo-Noir, it can hold its head high; as twisty and slick a thriller as you could hope for. e.g. I’d compare it very favourably with A History of Violence, which I think is operating in the same aesthetic space.

  3. I felt it didn’t signal clearly enough that it shouldn’t be approached in a realist mode, and that’s where all my problems came from. I think Fincher’s reputation contributes here – Dragon Tattoo is a thriller in a (relatively) realistic mode, Seven is highly founded in realism – and the first third of the movie doesn’t put up much in the way of flags that you’re in different territory here.

    That said, I absolutely agree, and your comment is probably a smarter way to express what I tried to say above – once you are in tune with the film’s word, it works damn well. History of Violence is an interesting comparison, I must go back and watch that again sometime!

    Either way though it was way too long…

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