Thursday, November 20, 2014


Gone Girl is one of the best films of the year. To date it has grossed nearly $150 million domestically (and even more than that internationally). Critically, the film is hovering very near the 90% level on (88% from critics and 90% from the audience). That it is from David Fincher, one of America's most distinctive directors (Fight Club, The Social Network), is another reason to see it.

Gone Girl is based on the blockbuster best-selling mystery novel published in 2012 written by Gillian Flynn with the same title. "What a dark comedy!" one of my friends exclaimed as the credits rolled and scattered applause was heard around the theater (at the Arclight Cinemas in Pasadena) when we saw the film in on its opening weekend.

Gone Girl is multiple movies rolled into one. It is a dark comedy; it is also a whodunnit, a battle of the sexes, a biting critique of the "if it bleeds, it leads" media culture, a meditation on the nature of the modern American marriage and star-centered vehicle for Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Affleck and Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple whose version of the American dream has gone bust when both of them get fired from their publishing industry jobs in New York City and end up moving to Nick's hick hometown in Missouri to take care of Nick's ailing mom but end up stuck there permanently.  This upsets his wife, who grew up as the pampered only daughter of two psychiatrists who wrote a series of successful novels about Amazing Amy, the perfect child.

The movie opens on the occasion of Nick and Amy's fifth wedding anniversary, with Amy having apparently disappeared and Nick looking uncomfortable and secretive when questioned by the police about his wife's friends, her activities and their marriage.

When Amy doesn't appear after a few days, the police (and Amy's parents) get more suspicious of Nick's behavior and even the audience, who wants to give Affleck's character the benefit of the doubt starts to turn on him.

The film's effectiveness depends on the numerous twists and turns that Flynn has expertly included in the screenplay she adapted from the excellent source material of her own novel. Fincher's direction is exceptional, because even at well over two hours, the movie is thrillingly paced and very suspenseful.

The only question remaining now is whether (or how) Hollywood's award-industrial complex will be able to embrace and reward Gone Girl despite its genre roots come end-of-year awards.

Title: Gone Girl.
Director: David Fincher.
Running Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.
Release Date: October 3, 2014.
Viewing Date: October 5, 2014.

Writing: A.
Acting: A.
Visuals: B+.
Impact: B+.

Overall Grade: A- (3.66/4.0).

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