Married bliss turns into Lynchian nightmare.
First off it is really difficult to review this film without giving away spoilers so beware, spoilers ahoy.
Gone Girl is so explicitly like three different movies that it calls to mind recent thriller The Place Beyond the Pines. Act I is a raging success and sits well with anything in master director David Fincher’s body of work. Affleck never really had the charisma to carry a Hollywood block buster (Daredevil, Pearl Harbour etc) but he can play a down beat every man better than any of his peers. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt or even Ryan Gosling simply could not have played this role. Rosamund Pike gives a life changing performance that is almost too good. While she plays loving wife, a woman scorned, psychopath, vulnerable sex object and numerous other roles all in the same film she never manages to roll them all up into one believable character.
Act II starts off brilliantly but starts to fall apart when a scene that should be the pay off after a huge build up is inexplicably cut. By the time we return to this scene the tension has dissipated. From here the already laid back Affleck looks like he might fall asleep and things go from bad to worse when Neil Patrick Harris enters the fold as an even more unpleasant version of Barney from ‘How I Met Someone… Who Cares Yawn’ only to be deservedly killed by a rapidly unraveling Rosamund Pike.
So we stumble into act III with the jury very much out and this is where Fincher makes a huge misstep. The whole tone of the film shifts from tense thriller to ethereal daydream. With no build up what so ever Pike just decides she has had enough of this shit, slashes creepy Barney’s throat and returns to a beleaguered Affleck.
Two huge questions arise from this. Firstly why would Ben Affleck, who has spent most of the movie talking about how much he hates his wife, just go quietly into the dark night of a hideous relationship with her again after he has established that she tried to have him executed, and framed two (!) men for rape and murdered one of them? Secondly and even more pertinently why would a detective (and also a lawyer who has agreed to work for free) who also knows of the aforementioned crimes just accept that the culprit is just going to get away with it? It is not so much a plot hole as a plot black hole that sucks the rest of the movie inside it.
Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor’s score is brilliant and saves some of the more daft scenes later in the movie but it simply isn’t enogh.
Debate is currently raging as to whether Gone Girl is sexist or misogynist but to have this discussion about a film with a plot that is so preposterous misses the point. Other than a light message about the agenda of the mainstream media (hardly ground breaking) this is just a bonkers story told in an unconventional way. Too many risks taken, not enough of them pay off. A huge disappointment.
IMDB TOP 250 #149
NOMINATED FOR 1 OSCAR