Review: GONE GIRL (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Review: GONE GIRL (2014)

GONE GIRL is a cinematic masterpiece of disturbingly twisted mystery and dark social satire which qualifies as one of David Fincher's finest movies to date.


Originally scheduled for local release in Malaysia on October 2, GONE GIRL was forced to pull out due to excessive censorship. At first, it was very disappointing to see another critically-acclaimed movie from David Fincher since 2011's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO failed to pass the local censorship board here. However, GONE GIRL was fortunate enough to get a second chance for local release (due 11 December), albeit with certain cuts (especially for the movie's strong sexual content and nudity) where some of the shot compositions are readjusted to certain angles to avoid showing the obvious without hurting the overall pace of the story. Upon finally getting to watch the movie in the screening, I was truly mesmerised with the direction, story and characters which are all brilliantly executed in GONE GIRL. No wonder the movie is still playing well in North America box office at the time of this writing.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, the movie begins on a beautiful morning with Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne's (Rosamund Pike) fifth wedding anniversary. However, upon returning home after visiting the bar that he co-owns with his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon), he discovers his wife has gone missing especially after witnessing what looks to be a sign of home invasion. He ends up calling the police, with detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) leading the investigation. But as the investigation goes on, the evidence seems to be suggesting that Nick might be the suspect in Amy's mysterious disappearance. From there, the news quickly spreads like wildfire as Amy's disappearance becomes a media sensation.

THE GOOD STUFF
 
From the mesmerising opening scene that captures the stillness of a sleepy Missouri town to the eerily unconventional ending that defies the usual expectation of a mainstream Hollywood thriller, director David Fincher and screenwriter Gillian Flynn -- who adapted her own novel -- successfully integrated two genres seamlessly into one movie. At first, GONE GIRL is structured like a Hitchcockian-like mystery thriller infused with Fincher's trademark of methodical storytelling method which focuses more on the cerebral style of a police procedural (shade of his own great work in 2007's ZODIAC is evident here), and a wickedly lurid thriller that echoes the like of 1992's BASIC INSTINCT.

As the movie progresses further, Fincher and Flynn are clever enough to manipulate the psychological thriller angle inside out with a fascinating tonal shift focusing on a social satire that pokes fun on media obsession as well as a cynical view on today's "perfect" marriage. The eventual twist, which I won't be revealing here, is something that is both shocking and terrifying than any other movies I have seen so far for this year, particularly the way Flynn explores the dark side of a human behaviour.

Like any other Fincher's great movies in the past, the technical craftsmanship of GONE GIRL is exceptionally first-rate quality. Jeff Cronenweth's sleek and atmospheric cinematography is perfectly framed with clinical precision, while Kirk Baxter's sharp editing ensures that every scene are carefully structured to the point where the 149-minute running time doesn't feel like a chore to sit through. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' moody score, in the meantime, successfully embodies the uneasy feeling of underlying dread and creepiness.

All the cast here is flawlessly acted. Ben Affleck delivers a fine performance as Nick, who manages to bring a subtle mix of smugness and sympathy to his role. Carrie Coon gives a breakthrough performance as Nick's foul-mouthed but loving sister Margo, while Kim Dickens is solid in her supporting role as Detective Rhonda Boney. Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris, who were known more for their comedies in the past, are surprisingly good enough with their respectively dramatic performances as Nick's attorney, Tanner Bolt and Amy's ex-boyfriend, Desi Collings. I still remember how awkward Tyler Perry used to look with his first action role in 2012's ill-received ALEX CROSS, but thankfully he manages to prove himself that he's more than a comedian dressed in drag. On the other hand, Neil Patrick Harris had me surprised for pulling off a convincing role as a creepy individual who obsessed Amy very much. Missi Pyle and Sela Ward, who both appear as two different TV personalities, are equally memorable with their respective cameo performances.

As great as the actors above, it was Rosamund Pike who impresses me the most with her layered performance as Amy. Her manipulative character which shown throughout the movie reminds me of Sharon Stone's iconic performance as Catherine Tramell in BASIC INSTINCT. No doubt this is a tour de force moment for Rosamund Pike, which finally changed my original perception of her since I used to think she is more of a porcelain beauty with wooden acting experience in the past.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The intriguing confession scene that reveals the entire plan and motive related to the missing case; the brief but shockingly violent scene that leads to a character's death; and the open, yet debatable ending which focuses on the fate of Nick and Amy's marriage.

THE BAD STUFF
  
While I understand there will be viewers who probably questioned or dislike about the movie's unconventional ending, I personally find the closure here is a perfect fit to the entire structure of the story that Fincher and Flynn wanted to say here.

FINAL WORDS


Although GONE GIRL is definitely not for the squeamish, especially given the disturbing nature of the story and the characters, this is one of the best movies I've ever come across for this year and also one of David Fincher's finest movies to date.

* This review is written courtesy from 20th Century Fox Malaysia press screening *

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