Friday, 3 October 2014
Gone Girl - Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Who's In It?
Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris & Tyler Perry
What's It About?
It's pretty difficult to write a review about a movie as hyped as Gone Girl has been. Yes, there are twists, we know that from the ridiculously hyped book that came before it, but with spot on casting, the story of Nick and Amy is brought to life in one of the most hectic, mind bending films of the year. Simply told this physiological thriller will keep you guessing until the very end, and then some.
With David Fincher at the helm there's no way the answer of this being 'any good?' was ever going to be no. Of course it's good, is it 'breathtaking', 'life altering' and 'one to watch out for come Oscar time'? Well, no.
The mystery begins on the morning of the couple's fifth anniversary and unfolds through time stamped set pieces and diary entries with the perspective constantly shifting. This makes it impossible to get your bearings, which adds to the audience's unease but also lays waste to any empathy we might feel for the characters. Allegiances shift constantly, making it difficult to root for any of the key players or care about their fate.
For a movie with a colossal TWO AND A HALF hours run time, the cat is let out of the bag very early on. It's difficult to maintain that creeping sense of dread once the big reveal is made but Fincher manages it before the second half of the movie descends into chaotic farce.
Having skipped the book (because of the hype) the major plot points were shocking to me. Double take, grab your mouth, while gauging the reaction of the rest of the cinema, shocking. There's a real beauty in that. For there to be a movie in 2014 with zero CGI, 3D gimmickry or super hero leanings (though Affleck is distractingly buff for his upcoming role), that still holds attention for the extended duration, is a feat in itself.
Pike has long been a favourite of mine and I can only imagine that this will set her Hollywood star on a stratospheric ascent. Her poise and screen presence as the spoiled, affected Amy wouldn't have been played as well by a better known actor. Her diary snippets tell a relateable tale of modern day marriage and its difficulties.
Affleck, as ever, brings just the right amount of smug for his part. His affable Nick is the first character we believe we know, but any pity we hold for him is quickly dissipated as evidence mounts, and it becomes clear that he is hiding something big. As the media are whipped into a frenzy, we're given a surprising view of social perceptions and their present day importance - probably my favourite element of the entire film.
It's only as the bit players come to the fore in all their cartoonish glory that we realise the tone of the movie is changing. Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy ex reprises his role as Barney Stinson brilliantly and Tyler Perry commands as the hotshot, spotlight seeking, defense attorney. Pitch black humour takes centre stage as the laughs come often but they don't come easy.
This screen adaptation watches like a series of books, with the onslaught of extremes relentless. Occasionally disjointed but never less than compelling, it descends into farce long before the highly contentious ending. Several times I fully expected a key character to break the fourth wall, Frank Underwood style, to give us a devilish wink.
I'm unsure if either Fincher or Flynn intended their work to elicit such genuine guffaws from its audience. I'm also unsure as to whether those were laughing with or at the ridiculousness of the plot but, no matter which way you slice it, this flick is a lot of fun. Stellar performances from all involved save Gone Girl from jumping the shark entirely. But it's close.
Forget the hype, suspend belief, skip the large drink and enjoy.