Nominated for Best Actress (Rosamund Pike) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards
What the heck happened to David Fincher? Is this really the same guy that created “Se7en”, “Fight Club”, “Zodiac” and “The Social Network”? That guy was an incredible talent and a top-notch film director. But the David Fincher that has bestowed “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” upon us–is just not the same guy. Which brings us to his latest, the Hitchcockian “Gone Girl”. Now, I’ve been partially convinced, since first viewing this, that Fincher is in on the joke. In other words, he realizes that “Gone Girl” is a comedy, and he simply runs with that. Okay, maybe he realizes. But I still feel he’s not playing enough of this for laughs–his resume just doesn’t support that theory. So, overall, I find “Gone Girl” to be a tawdry, overwrought affair.
On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne’s (a pretty good Ben Affleck) wife goes missing. Despite the early appearance of a loving relationship and domestic bliss, police focus quickly centers on Nick as a suspect, when kinks begin to appear in the supposed “armor” of their courtship. Detective Rhonda Bonney (Kim Dickens, giving the film’s best performance) uncovers some marital strife involving financial issues, infidelity and a possible pregnancy, as public and media opinion starts to come down hard on the idea of Nick’s innocence regarding the disappearance. And then we get another side of the story, as the movie shifts focus to our missing Amy Elliot-Dunne (Rosamund Pike, apparently loved by Oscar for her flamboyance here–she’s far better in other things), our “Gone Girl”, and things get much more complicated. The addition of the bizarre Desi Collings (a strong Neil Patrick Harris) to the mix of characters, only diverts our suspicions further.
“Gone Girl” is never less than compelling, so it’s easy to sit through, even with its two-and-a-half hour running time. And it opens very strong when involved with its detective-story, procedural elements. But it goes awry at some point, and it never fully recovers. And then it eventually takes a dip into the Grand Guignol–and becomes just plain laughable. There was a tale to be told here about the disintegration of a happy marriage, and maybe Gillian Flynn’s popular novel (she also penned this screenplay) was able to milk more out of that aspect. But it plays melodramatically on-screen, and gets more ridiculous as it hurdles towards the conclusion. Maybe subtle wasn’t called for here, but a more measured approach could’ve improved it. There’s a level of misogyny here that is unmistakable. I used to love David Fincher films, and I fear we are losing him. He hasn’t exactly flatlined yet, but 3 out of 4 times now, he’s left me cold. “Gone Girl”…and maybe Gone David. I hope not.
next review up: “Into the Woods”