Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Gone Girl

Year: 2014
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Gillian Flynn

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris…

In the UK we have a fairly new TV Channel called CBS Reality. Now for American audiences this is old news, but for Brits, we’re getting a taste of what living in America really means.

CBS Reality is a channel that is devoted entirely to showing you the ‘reality’ of America’s dark side, its depths and ultimately its depravity, through a series of shows about cops, the legal plea-bargaining culture, serial killers and murder in suburbia!

Gone Girl could easily be taken from an episode of a myriad of shows on the channel, perhaps the forensic ‘48 Hours’, or that other one, ‘Sins and Secrets’. Like these programmes, it comes with an 18 certificate, and a warning that you might be disturbed by its contents. This is a sure fire way to increase your audience figures.

Gone Girl is directed by David Fincher, a veteran of the sadistic mystery. You’ll know him from such movies gems as Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, and more recently, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Critics are saying great things about his latest offering. I want to tell you more about it, but even a few words on plot will ultimately give too much away. I happened upon a couple of reader comments over at Rotten Tomatoes and instantly figured out the so-called ‘twist’. There’s more than one.

For me, ‘Gone Girl the movie’ is disjointed, irritating in various ways, it’s also sick and depraved in subtle ways. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. Other critics have said that it’s an indictment of marriage, violence against women, and the roles we ‘play’. I would say these are just red-herrings.

What Gone Girl is all about is the horror that we are prepared to accept, to live with, to deny, in order to literally save ourselves. The story is about self-preservation at all costs. Translate that to politics or religion if you like. In a nut-shell, it's a contemporary fairy-tale for adults. A warning. Instead of golden or poison apples, you get gratuitous sex and menacing stares. 

Let’s talk specifics. Ben Affleck as chief protagonist Nick Dunne, is the husband who has a missing wife. He plays his role too laid-back in the early scenes, but as the story proceeds you begin to understand just why he’s so cool, on and off the screen. The sister Margo, (Carrie Coon), is believable, the parents, Rand and Marybeth Elliott (David Clennon and Lisa Banes) they are perhaps a little too cold to accept.

If you are a fan of CBS Reality, then you’ll believe that the chief investigators, Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit), and the celebrity lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) are real people!

The true revelation is Rosamund Pike. I’ve never much liked her in anything, until now. Her performance as Amazing Amy Dunne , not your ordinary house-wife, is extraordinary. She really is outstanding here. I’m sure awards season will see her light-up a dozen red carpets and she deserves a statue or two.

If anything, Gone Girl is a brilliant satire on the media and the public’s fickle tastes. Sensationalist TV host and pseudo-investigator Ellen Abbott (a great turn by Missi Pyle) shows us just what the world really cares about. As the plot thickens, the media circus that surrounds Affleck’s character is familiar, albeit overblown, with constant paparazzi camera flashes at the windows proving more ridiculous than realistic. Nobody cares about UN mandates against Russia when some hot guy just offed his hot wife, and all their dirty laundry is on prime-time. 

If you can sit for two-and-a-half hours in a theatre seat, then this is worth a shot. You may be shocked, but not disappointed. You have writer Gillian Flynn to thank for it. She adapted her own best-selling novel into the screenplay of Gone Girl. I’m not sure if Gillian’s ever seen a show on CBS Reality, but she most definitely knows who Nancy Grace is, and by the end of this, so will you.