Just been watching…(28)

Gone Girl (2014)

***This is going to be a shorter review than usual. Due to the twists and turns in this film, it is very difficult not to include any spoilers for those who haven’t seen it. I have decided not to, so I am writing this with both metaphorical hands tied behind my back.***

David Fincher is an accomplished film-maker. Anyone who enjoyed ‘Se7en’, ‘Fight Club’, and many of his other films will confirm that. So when he releases a new crime thriller, you can bet I will want to watch it. It took me a while, but I finally did get to see it, just last night. I have never read the book it is based on, but the story is compelling, just from a synopsis. A young professional couple, leading a prosperous and happy life in New York City. The recession hits, and jobs are lost. Life begins to look not quite as rosy. Then news comes from Missouri, the man’s home state. His mother is dying, and needs him to come home and help. They sell up, and relocate to small town mid-west. Using what little money they have left, he and his twin sister buy a bar in the town, and go about their lives as best they can. The wife is left at the new home, regretting the change in fortunes, but determined to rediscover their happiness.

Then one day, he comes home from work, and his wife has gone. The circumstances look suspicious, and it doesn’t take the local police too long to start to focus on the husband as a suspect; helped by a series of clues and some implicating evidence. To make matters worse, his wife’s family are influential writers, and they arrive to help galvanize the local community into a search for their missing daughter. They have always resented the small-town boy who married their brilliant, perfect daughter, and make no secret of their scorn for him. The media gets involved, and soon his life is in the spotlight, and his every move dogged by either the police or the press.

That’s about it. To tell much more about the story would undoubtedly spoil your enjoyment. But I won’t leave it there, as you have to know what I thought of it, don’t you? Well, I thought it was very good indeed. Fincher delivers in his usual style, and the plot keeps us more-or-less guessing right until the very unusual (and therefore satisfying) ending. Rosamund Pike is outstanding in the role of Amy, the ‘Gone Girl’ of the title. She has to play the character as two very different people, and she does so with aplomb. Carrie Coon as the twin sister Margo makes her supporting role into that of a co-star, and is completely convincing at all times. Then there is the weary detective, Rhonda. She won’t believe all the hype, and sticks to what her instinct tells her. Kim Dickens enlarges a character we have seen so many times before, and changes it into something we haven’t really seen before.

This is a film about excellent acting from women. They steal all the scenes, and drive the action too. Mind you, given that the lead male character, Nick, is played by the wooden and generally unwatchable Ben Affleck, that wasn’t too hard a task. I fail to see why he is ever cast in a film, when there are so may better actors around who can actually act. (OK, Affleck fans, do your worst…)

This film is all about twists too. Just when you thought you had worked it out, it turns on its head and leaves you guessing again. Who? What? Why? How did that happen? I confess I did see the ‘big reveal’ coming, but it took a while and I enjoyed the ride, even when I was proved right. This is grown-up film making, shot in luxurious wide screen, and full of atmosphere. Even the bit-part players are just right, from the creepy ex-boyfriend, to the white trash neighbour. It confirms what I already knew. David Fincher knows how to craft an enjoyable and often thrilling film, and he did very well to cast Rosamund Pike too.

Shame about Affleck though.

Here’s a trailer.

40 thoughts on “Just been watching…(28)

  1. Great review, Pete. That had to be difficult to not give away too much. I read the book and own the D.V.D. To be a flip side to Ben…. Yes, he’s a little stiff in his performances, but I find I must rally for the underdog trying to find his way in Hollywood… I wonder if he is being coached by the wrong people? I feel if he just lets it out his talent would shine.. That’s just me being me…
    Take care, Laura


  2. I kind of missed this, haven’t read the book either, Vinnie reviewed it a few days ago and he really liked Affleck, I have no feeling about him either way. Great review Pete, but still can’t get up any enthusiasm to look out for it.


    1. To be honest, you could live a happy life without ever seeing it, FR. Pike is first-rate, if a little overblown at times. But it is spoiled by Affleck being unable to act; and Fincher has done better, unless you didn’t like Se7en?
      If it was on telly, it would be worth a watch.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched it a while back, but I was in Spain and although the films are available in original version, as my mother’s eyesight is not great and she doesn’t understand English we went to watch a dubbed version. I enjoyed it but, not having read the book I can’t comment on how good or bad an adaptation is. I thought I had read books that used very similar way of telling a story, and it twists and turns… well, to be clever, but hey… With regards to Ben Affleck, I think he’s a much better director than acting. And I also agree his brother does an amazing job in Robert Ford


  4. Well, I’m definitely in the minority here: I found it boring (I think I may even have fast forwarded some parts…), rather superficial in what it tried to say about the things it approached, not to mention misogynistic (there has been some debate about the misogyny present in the book, nothing to do with the fact that it’s been written by a woman). I also found some of the twists preposterous (the role of NPH, for example), and most of the other actors forgettable (I cannot even recall the sister or the detective). I completely agree though that Afflect is wooden and unwatchable (surprisingly not in Argo that he himself directed, and which I loved) – which is why he was so enjoyable in The Accountant (something that one might call a modern b-movie, but it worked very well for me).


    1. Thanks for your thoughts as always, Nandia. I am used to often being in a minority with my own opinions, so that’s not an issue.
      It is probably because I am a man, but I thought it had some strong roles for women, and made all the men in the film look weak and helpless, much as women are portrayed in many other films. The second half was less satisfying, as anyone paying attention would have worked it our very quickly.
      I didn’t actually watch Argo, because of Affleck, so cannot comment about that film.
      I have seen clips of The Accountant, which seems like deliberately preposterous fun.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is exactly that! Deliberately preposterous fun (and since I have a soft spot ever since he directed Warrior, I tend to follow Gavin O’Connor’s work). As far as Argo is concerned, I strongly recommend it, I will say no more till you’ve seen it 🙂


    1. If I hadn’t known it was an adaptation, I would have thought it was a very competent thriller. But if you already know the end, I’m not so sure you will get the same viewing experience.Perhaps if you know someone with Netflix, and can watch it for nothing?
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pete, I read the book beforehand, and – i promise no spoilers coming – I think your analysis is great, but I will differ just slightly from you on Fincher – just as he did with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” – I felt he may have been a tad TOO faithful to the book…that said, the book was a great read and the film offers the same ride…just try not to stare too much at Affleck’s hairline…


    1. Thanks, John. I confess that I hated his remake of the original Swedish film. Scene by scene, word for word, completely pointless; and less enthralling that the Swedish original too.
      If he was too faithful to this book, then this may be a good or bad thing, as I have not read it. For me, it was all about Rosamund Pike’s totally convincing performance. Even though the second half was ‘telegraphed’ clumsily.
      I am honestly at a loss to understand how Affleck earns even one dollar. But maybe that’s just me?
      Best wishes, Pete.


      1. Pete, agree with you on the “Dragon” movie – it was so icy cold and lacking any emotion or energy…Pike is phenomenal in “Gone Girl” though, isn’t she? Affleck looking a bit “square jawed” with acting to boot!


      1. Well worth the late night, the twist(s) well and truly had me. I did however look at Affleck in a different light and have to agree that he came across like a bit like Punch!
        Thanks to you and Vinnieh for giving me the heads up.


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