********* 8 out of 10 *********
Director: David Fincher
Actors: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
A movie is as much about packaging as anything else. You can get the terrific story and then the actors who will play their hearts out, but it all needs to be perfectly pieced together to show to the audience. Like a gift box whose ribbons are being unraveled with each scene until finally the last knot is untied and you go ‘wow!’ The best directors are careful about this art of packaging a great story into a powerful movie, on how to bring forth their vision to the audience in the most captivating manner. They need to see it before they even begin shooting and they work on it even after the final shot in tandem with the editor. David Fincher is as good as they come in packaging a film for the audience; you may even call him a master in this art. Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, each one can be called a great movie for many reasons, but the biggest reason that they stand out in cinematic history is because of Fincher’s ability to unfold the story with a delicate finesse, where only the adequate amount of information is put on the table and the audience is kept hungry for more. With Gone Girl, Fincher continues his tradition of keeping his cards close to his chest and then revealing them gradually, at the right moments and with the right amount of tension. Nobody can do this better!
Gone Girl begins on the day of the fifth wedding anniversary of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike). It is also the day when Amy disappears. The movie follows the investigation into Amy’s disappearance led by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), the public involvement and the media frenzy that come along with it. It unravels the breakdown of a marriage which started blissfully before crumbling to nothingness. It shows the toll of the economic recession on an ordinary couple’s lives. And it does all this in a chilling manner, with a dark style of narration, with enough twists that would keep you hooked right till the very end.
The screenplay of the film is its biggest strength. I would claim it to be one of the best screenplays of the year right along side some amazing ones as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Grand Budapest Hotel. It has been written by Gillian Flynn, the author of the best-selling novel on which the movie has been made, but you can clearly see the hand of director David Fincher in this. The movie’s narration is non-linear as it moves back and forth between the periods before and after Amy’s disappearance. The transition between the two sections is very well handled, and does not come across as jarring at any point. The different themes about our society which get covered in the movie have also been displayed with a neatness and restraint that is the hallmark of a talented director. The tension that flows throughout the movie never recedes, even during its brief moments of humour. Fincher and Fylnn remain very careful with each scene as to what they let the audience know and what is to remain hidden. They won’t let you blink!
The real hero of the movie is the screenplay and so the actors on the screen appear like pawns in this giant puzzle, playing their parts to keep the story running. Ben Affleck is not someone who is rated too highly as an actor but it is difficult not to like him. He is charming, affable, pleasant to look at, and puts in a good shift at work. Maybe he has become more lovable after his spectacular run as a director, and that could be a reason why we look at him with more respect now. At least I do. In Gone Girl, he holds a good screen presence but does not really do anything that any decent serious actor could not have. He looks in good shape though which should be thanks to his future Batman role!
Rosamund Pike is a terrific casting for the role of Amy though it takes time for her character to grow on you. There is that richness in her voice, the aloofness in her approach, the glamour on her face, that makes her stand out as the “poster girl”, the missing person who has to be brought back home. But there is still so much more to her personality that comes across in the movie. Rosamund Pike demands attention in her scenes in the film; she simply owns them. There is Kim Dickens too who stands out as the lead detective in the case. Calm and collected, she carries an attitude that would make you love the law enforcement, and is one of the highlights of the first half of the movie. Then there is Tyler Perry who appears in a brief role as the lawyer for Nick Dunne but makes quite an impression. I wish he would step away for a while from his own “written, produced and directed” range of films and be more active in working on projects with the bigger studios, for he does have an engaging personality. Carrie Coon fits well in the boots of the adoring twin sister of Nick Dunne, his “voice of reason”. And it is time for Neil Patrick Harris to let go of his suits; haven’t we had enough?
Gone Girl is yet another winner from David Fincher. It is a product of a great story, strong acting, and the talent of a director to perfectly bring out his vision for a movie. If Fincher has already not established himself as one of the best in the business, then Gone Girl should definitely get him there. This one is a perfect package for you to open!