This was my first ever review on my blog which was about a year ago. But I’m going to repost this (with some edits) to kick off a new series called ‘Favourite Movies Ever‘ which you can find at the top right hand corner of my homepage as one of the menus. I’ll review a favourite movie of mine quite often from now on to add variety to the current movies that I mainly review. So far Her and Midnight In Paris are sitting pretty in that list, check em’ out if you’re interested! Gone Girl will be in as well. Next one will be a certain Christopher Nolan film 😉
You always feel unsettled watching Gone Girl. Right from the start,flashbacks are dark and provide glimpses of both Amy Elliot Dunne’s (Rosamund Pike) and Nick’s (Ben Affleck) perspective. It is a gripping tale that unfolds unconventionally,with bits of information strewn from different narrators. I would personally contend that the film has provided us with equally important and compelling narratives in Amy and Nick,with their lives so intertwined with each other, and are both protagonists in their own right. The significance of such a character dynamic is interesting,and is closely linked to its thematic elements. David Fincher’s tale about the symbiotic and yet catastrophic destruction of a marriage is a shrewd observation of problems in both society and marital life. His exaggeration, which might come in preposterous excess to some, actually dramatizes these problems to the point so unimaginable, it desensitizes us to what we consider extreme. As we marvel at what Fincher has in store for us, there is a growing sense, a nagging feeling as you look over to your partner beside you and can’t help but slightly wonder “Could this be you?”
The film opens with the investigation of Amy Dunne’s disappearance. Set in the backdrop of a recession, financial problems and an unstable marriage have rocked the core of their marriage. Evidence of this is narrated with the almost effortless voice from Rosamund Pike,with journal entries(flashbacks) which are shown to viewers from time to time, in the midst of the real time search for ‘Amazing Amy’-a nickname that just spells trouble. To Amy, it wasn’t just a nickname.’Amazing Amy’ is a twisted and unrealistic projection of Amy by others, a false image created in the ‘Amazing Amy’ books. Fincher here illustrates the first twisted image of many more to come. A particularly soothing and yet unsettling tune “Sugar Storm” from the brilliant soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor plays throughout the film. But perhaps none more hauntingly than when Nick wipes off the dough dust from Amy’s lips and kisses her in the dark alley. It is one unforgettable scene where Fincher nails completely; As the strings and ambience build, a foreboding sense of reality hits us harder, unbeknownst to the characters who are blind to the facade of initial impression and gratification. Just like marriage, Gone Girl gives us a foretaste that hides the closet of skeletons.
“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. “
We soon get a reveal of Amy’s sociopathic tendencies which are brilliantly fleshed out by Rosamund Pike through journal entries and clues that are read in her cold and somewhat whimsical voice. Pike reads it with a sort of seductive and sensual lyricism which makes it all the more captivating. Her twisted game of treasure hunt leaves clues for Ben to discover amidst the growing speculation surrounding her disapperance. Nick seems to garner our sympathies at first but since the narrative is highly ambiguous, we can’t help but doubt his honesty. With the age-old adage ‘it takes two hands to clap’, the film unwraps its cryptic mystery line by line and flashback by flashback. Ben Affleck isn’t a simple ‘type B/laidback’ character that he’s portrayed at first. Smiling at sombre campaigns to find Amy, there is something disconcerting about Nick here. Fincher then slowly unravels his hidden lover and the fact that he has become less driven and family-minded as time passes. Ultimately choosing to side with either is an exercise in futile; They’re both flawed in their own ways and each try to negotiate back control and power within their own respective predicaments. Therein lies the complexity from having two unreliable narrators, fascinating as it may be, who twist the narratives; Amy wants revenge while Nick wants redemption. It is in this non-chronological psychological battlefield that shifts Gone Girl’s message one way then shifts slightly in another direction based on what’s being revealed. Gone Girl is a stylish hyperbole of corrupted bonds and an excellent masterclass in unreliable narration. The seeds of doubt fester in our minds just as it has on both Amy and Nick and never lets go.
One can almost feel that Amy, who I firmly believe is one of cinema’s most complex characters, gains and perversely sustains herself through the victim cycle. Amidst it’s other satirical jabs at modern marriage and trust issues and the power struggle within marriage, Gone Girl’s portrayal of the victim cycle is one provocative theme that it explores with soul-stirring sequences. The lengths at which Amy goes to, and credit goes to Rosamund Pike whose depraved coolness and haunting duplicity is so scary, is amazing indeed. Totally sick! With all the graphic imagery you’ll soon see, Gone Girl reverberates with an energetic tempo that subverses the pitiful nature of a victim; Victimhood actually feels empowering. It doesn’t feel natural, but the film has totally convinced us. Too often people say that ‘oh, it’s crazy’ or ‘it’s too dark and violent’. But have we stopped to consider that we ourselves, through our own interests in sensationalizing news, engender a more disgusting culture than what’s merely depicted on screen. As seen from the constant reference to the upkeeping of one’s public persona, frantic media coverage and posturings in front of the media from most notably Nick himself, it’s clear for all to see that the film accurately depicts a society that feeds of and engenders a toxic brand of deception. It is one bloody and violent suckerpunch that will shock you in more ways than one. But this isn’t a horror film; It’s a film that exposes the horrors in us.
Whether you like the film or not doesn’t really matter. It has important things to say and likewise we have alot of things to think about. What I loved about it was that David Fincher’s film isn’t strictly one genre; It’s drama, thriller, modern satire and horror all mixed into this hypnotic affair of victimization and abuse. Fincher has his trademark style of turning up the blacks to set the tone but also explores with more graphic crimson hues and shell-shocking cut scenes that traumatize you to shreds. Gone Girl tells of the murky undergrowth that exists under the veneer and idyll of ‘marriage’. It’s extreme I agree. But not all artists want to depict life as it is. For Fincher, he pushes it so far and yet still finds a way to stir our senses in ways that apply to real life more than we expect. Perhaps Gone Girl leaves us with this one encompassing message; The more the tensions are unresolved, the more each individual separates out of the shared bond, and brings in individual distortions that destroy the bonds between them. This is arguably Fincher’s best film to date and cuts at the very heart and crux of the deficiency’s in man and his relationships.
” There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.”
Listen to this and tell me it doesn’t perfectly fit the movie; Sweet at first, then horrfyingly unsettling. This was my best movie of 2014. And I was honestly surprised it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Music Score.
Images credited to Regency Enterprises, TSG Entertainment and 20th Century Fox.
Poster by one fantastic Ben Holmes, check out his artworks at http://www.bjwholmes.com/