Movie Review: Gone Girl
Yes, we waited an hour and a half in line to see this movie for free the day before it hits theaters. Worth the brisk mile walk from my office and dinner eaten standing in the lobby of AMC Loews?
Gone Girl follows Nick Dunne in the investigation and search after his wife goes missing. The central question of the story is whether he did it, and we, as an audience, don't really know either--and then, there's that giant plot twist. And suddenly the story goes from a well-done but maybe-seen-before story of a missing woman to a blow-your-mind tale of two intricately woven and brilliantly crafted characters.
I've been excited for this movie for three reasons-- the book was wonderful. Ben Affleck is always wonderful. And the plot is, yes, pretty great. The film lived up to my expectations and it didn't. It's really quite confusing for me to wrap my head around.
On one hand, the movie has impressive cinematography and music, a dynamite cast, and it pulls off a complex plot that I was skeptical it could achieve with any grace. Rosamund Pike takes the gold for a masterful performance as the Gone Girl herself, Amy Dunne. The role is challenging and Pike steals every scene she's in. And Affleck is great too, as the confused and confusing Nick Dunne, Amy's husband. He makes us believe what he's saying even when we don't know if we agree. Actually, the entire cast is stellar in the movie, and where the novel shines in its character development and intricate writing, the movie shines in its casting and acting.
On the other hand, the book does what the movie just simply cannot do. It gets into the minds of the characters in a way that only literature can-- pulls us into their psyches and holds anticipation if not for the sheer time it takes you to read a paragraph or turn a page (even on a Kindle). The very nature of movies means that we find out the ending to a question, at most, a few hours after it is posed, whereas unless you're a speed reader, it's going to take you longer to figure it out while reading a book. The mystery just lasts longer in real-time while reading a book, and since there are various mini-mysteries within the story, some of them seem rushed and glossed over when converted into film. My largest disappointment with the movie was just that--the way the questions seemed to dissipate more quickly and with less satisfaction than it did in the book--but I can't tell if that's just because I read (and loved) the novel first.
The novel is obviously plot-based and praised for its pacing and ingenuity in this regard, but it is also largely a character-driven story. It would not be the worldwide sensation that it is if the characters weren't both compelling and hatable, and the movie holds onto the essence of the book, what made it the masterpiece that it was. The movie may be long and the lines to get in longer, but this is one you don't want to miss. Whether you've read the book or not, go for the acting, go for the chilling filming, go for the insane and twisted story that I can't give away in this review but I really want to.
This was the first time Bob and I were able to sit in Reserved for Press seats at a movie screening (okay, it was only because the actual press didn't show, but who cares), and I can't think of a better movie to break in our critics' butts with.
Stars: 4 out of 5
Bring to the Movie: Popcorn--this is a classic
See this Movie: ASAP
Don't See this Movie: If you're dumb
Nothing is worse than when you want to see a good ol’ movie and some poindexter keeps talking about the book it was based off of. Aren’t movies the fish-oil pills of entertainment? You don’t want to have to force some flaky slab of salmon down your throat, when there’s a much easier supplement you can take. So it is with a heavy heart that I must look at the man in the mirror and see that poindexter looking back at me. But it must be said: your experience is going to be fundamentally different based on whether or not you’ve read the book first.
The book is better. It was never a fair contest. The story requires some tricky gymnastics to convincingly pull off its twists and turns. The movie performs these admirably, but the book has many more hours with you and it sells it better. Additionally, the movie is so incredibly faithful to the book (there were murmurs that the ending had been changed for the movie, but if anything it was changed, it was the color of the wallpaper) that it constantly sets up the comparison.
The Good News: The movie is still great. It’s funny, dark, wonderfully shot, and filled to the brim with fantastic acting. Tyler Perry puts in a daring turn as a non-sassy male and he is terrific. Yes, Tyler Perry is terrific. Rosamund Pike is outstanding and Oscar-worthy. She gets a fun, demanding role that allows her to show off, and she performs spectacularly in it. Ben Affleck is solid in a restrained, relatively thankless role. He’s the batter taking the walk to load the bases, and Pike is the MVP that gets to hit the grand slam.
Fincher is great as always. There are some wonderful visual flourishes and 15 miles of plot are effortlessly wrapped up in a 150 minute package. It’s a very good movie. It’s just a better book.
Stars: 4 out of 5
How does it compare to other David Fincher films?
Better than: Zodiac
Worse than: Social Network