Film Review: Gone Girl

It seems that Gone Girl, David Fincher’s adaptation for the big screen of Gillian Flynn’s novel, is fast becoming this year’s “water-cooler” film. Everybody seems to want to see it, and everybody seems to want to talk about it, discuss it, or has an opinion on it. And every conversation starts with the words “I can’t say much as I don’t want to spoil the ending but…”.

People are also saying that this isn’t a “date” film, or a film to see with your loved ones, in fact, this is a film that apparently borders on the ” if you are romantically involved with anybody, watch this purely on your own” due to the way is systematically tears apart your trust and belief in love, relationships and confidence, leaving you confused and scared that secretly you’re not part of either a twisted game, or being destroyed by a psychopath.

Now, spoilers are spoilers and so I can’t say much about its plot (see what I mean) but suffice to say that it’s bonkers. It’s mad. I don’t know Gillian Flynn, but the plot to Gone Girl seems more like alcohol fuelled invention, almost written one step outside of believable reality rather than anything that could be going on down the street. And the longer it goes on, the more it twists and turns, the more it feels less and less like a recounting of non-fiction and more and more like a grim fairytale of fictional farcicality.

Gillian Flynn Novel - Gone Girl

Honestly, the longer it went on, the more I each section seemed to sever all ties to anything that went before it. The story seems to snowball, increasing in size and complexity as it’s descends towards it termination in a way that meant that by the time we were preparing for the credits any connection to the original idea seemed to have been lost. It’s almost 2 films rolled into one. The first two thirds dealing with our lead characters relationship and then the finale third, solely created as a result of Flynn’s inability to see a satisfactory parallel ending and instead writing at a tangent to justify her conclusions.

And it’s such a shame because the way it’s narrative is put together with present day events portrayed through Nick (Ben Affleck) and past events created through the written diary of Amy (Rosamund Pike) is clever, inventive and a good way to distinguish the opposite faces of this story from each other; but sadly the casting just doesn’t work to really pull it off. Affleck has lost the strength and conviction he showed in Argo; returning sadly, to the side mouth smile and distant gaze sliminess he made so famous in Pearl Harbor. While Pike brings Amy to life with a chilling clarity and power, she also manages starch an opaqueness on everything around her that she never seems to gel properly with the characters that are involved with her life or the events that dictate her journey. It really is a case of there’s cold and detached, and then there is frozen solid. And sadly Pike channels the latter.

Ben Affleck - Gone Girl

All is not lost though, because while the lead characters may not in my view work together, and  as Neil Patrick Harris’ minor role doesn’t provide enough to warrant comment. It’s the parts taken by Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens, as Nick’s twin sister Margo and Police Detective Rhonda Boney respectively, that for me stole the show. They are brilliant and believable and convey the emotion and sensitivity that this film relies on so much to create any form of emotional response in its viewer.

But that small redeeming feature isn’t enough to get past my biggest problem, and my lasting thought on Gone Girl; this film screams of nothing more than vanity and of pompous gloss. It feels overly American, to such an extent that honestly, there is even a slight hint of a Stepford Wives shine to the world in which they live. This film just exudes a vibe of pure fashion film making. It feels like the big screen equivalent of after work drinks in the posh modern wine bar or that coffee table magazine positioned to impress rather than be read. It truly is style over substance.

I really don’t get what all the fuss about Gone Girl is about. It’s far too long and failed to hold my attention for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. For the first time in a very long time, I looked frequently at my watch, wondering just much longer this story had to play. The pacing is just totally wrong. There really is an exceptionally chilling and hard hitting tale buried within this idea, that there can be no argument; but for me at least, it needed a firmer hand with its transition to print to screen. It’s 500 pages of book turned into 500 pages of film. It needed shortening.

It’s not going to trouble any award ceremony, but it reminds me a lot of 12 Years A Slave. In exactly the same way as 12 Years A Slave did last year, Gone Girl has created a strength and following based upon a spoken reputation, but sadly though, where 12 Years A Slave warranted it, this does not.

5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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