Monday, October 20, 2014

Film Review: David Fincher's Gone Girl

The basic idea behind David Fincher's Gone Girl, is not whether Ben Affleck's character really did kill his missing wife, or even why, if he did, but rather how such a person is perceived by the public in today's modern world of all-encompassing 24/7 (and then some) media. Now such an idea may have been rather novel a decade ago, or even relatively intriguing a mere five years ago, but today it just seems a bit tired - a bit obvious. Yes, we know that social media is everywhere. Yes, we know that people are found guilty in the media all the time. Yes yes yes. None of this is new news. None of this shocks us anymore, which brings us to the other problem this film has going for it - or against it, as it were. Nothing here shocks us at all - even the things that are meant to shock us. And these are the flaws that turn what should be a tense thriller, the kind of film we have come to expect, even in the unexpected, from a director like Fincher, into just another suspense drama - but one bereft of any real suspense.

Now perhaps that opening salvo was a bit too harsh a criticism on Fincher's film. I am sure under less capable hands, the film would have fallen hard into exploitative typical Hollywood melodrama. Under Fincher's thumb, the film does have the director's cold and calculating style in spades, and is told in the most precise yet seemingly effortless manner we have come to expect from the auteur, but even with such a feel (a feel added to by Oscar winners Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross' score) it is hard for one to get past the rather heavy handed philosophies set forth in the film. Cheap theatrics and silly, obvious cliches abound. Granted, Ben Affleck does a fine job, and Rosamund Pike is pretty much pitch perfect, even in a role that leans toward the over-dramatic. Hell, even Tyler Perry is good in the film. Now there's something you don't hear every day. Seriously though, this is probably Fincher's weakest film (we are conveniently leaving Alien 3 out of the equation), but even Fincher's weakest is better than most of what we are handed these days in mainstream filmmaking. But it is not so much a dislike for the film so much as a disappointment at it not being what I was hoping it would be.

As I stated earlier, there is no suspense here. None whatsoever. I don't want to give out any of those dreaded spoilers, but I do not believe this film has any spoilers, as every single twist and turn can be seen the proverbial mile away. And this is something David Fincher is always good at doing. Even in a film like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, in which we knew exactly what was going to happen (it was a remake, duh), the auteur manages to shock and even surprise. In the director's brilliantly batshitcrazy Se7en, there are scenes where I knew what was going to happen, but even when that exact thing happened, I leapt out of my seat, figuratively, but almost literally as well. In film after film, from Fight Club to The Social Network to Zodiac (my personal favourite), even The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (the one other hole in the director's otherwise peerless oeuvre), Fincher has given us shock and awe in spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds, but here, in Gone Girl, it just all seems to be missing. Even though this film is better than most of the Hollywood schlock coming from the studios these days (they really don't make 'em like they used to!) Fincher can, and most certainly has done better. The film does have something going for it though, and this is something I never believed I would ever type into a film review: Tyler Perry is great in the film. Yeah, I said it. Now go home and watch Fight Club.


2 comments:

  1. I heard about Gone Girl in late summer and getting all this hype. Now the hype has become a whisper since the movie is out and that can say many things. I hate hype as they are trying to hard to sell me something that is probably crappola. I can't believe you wrote that Tyler Perry was good. I will see this film but probably wait for video, um, DVD:)

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  2. Oh and just looked at the score for the Scorsese films and I can't believe no one picked the Color of Money yet

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