Gone Girl (2014): A Dark, Gripping Thriller of Dystopian Suburbia

Gone Girl

I am a fan of David Fincher’s work, and this film continues more of that quality that I’ve come to expect from his films. The films that for me best represent his work are “Se7en,” “Fight Club,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and “Zodiac.” This is similar to those in some ways but is also very much it’s own thing in that the crime  mystery aspect in the end isn’t the point. The point is the characters and the relationship at the core of the film. I’ll get into more details in the assessment.

“Gone Girl” was directed by by David Fincher, Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay and the book of the same name it was based on (still need to read it), and the producers were Leslie Dixon, Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon and Cean Chaffin.

The premise is it is the Fifth Anniversary of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) and Amy has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Due to Nick’s handling of the press and hiding of secrets he becomes a major suspect in his wife’s possible murder. From here the story unfolds as we see how broken their marriage was and the secrets they both held.

There will be spoilers ahead.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Critique of the Media – This film really shows how easy it is to turn a trial into a witch hunt, as Nick’s awkwardness in public turns everyone against him until he comes clean about his affair and tells the world what they want to hear on advice from his lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry). It shows how fickle the court of public opinion is and how cable television can create the story before the story may not be there cause all the facts aren’t in. This was an aspect of the film I really appreciated.

The Mystery – The mystery surrounding both Amy’s point of view and the intentions of Nick are really well done. When you think you have all the facts, something more is revealed that puts things into question. This is done really well at the beginning as Amy’s anniversary clues point towards guilt but something more and as we see more of how Ben is not a good person…no one in this movie is except maybe Nick’s sister Margo (Carrie Coon).

Margo – Nick’s twin sister Margo who is co-owner of The Bar with him is a great character. She is the first outside of Amy to find out about the affair he’s having with his student and her distrust of Amy is found to be genuine. She cares about her brother and does all she can to protect him and we see her good advice go unheeded by Nick in the beginning until it is too late. She really is a great character, and Carrie Coon does a good job.

Tanner Bolt – Tyler Perry is great! The guy is like one of the lawyers of Phoenix Wright and we see him manipulate the court of public opinion for Nick and give him the chance to shape things in his favor. This plays a part later and forces Amy into action. I wish we could have got more of this character. He’s cynical, funny and at the core believes he’s doing good work.

Critique of Suburbia – In this one we see the evils of suburbia and public appearances too as Amy manipulates a neighbor to make the world think she’s pregnant and that Nick killed her because he didn’t want the baby. it is the world of the fake facade that the couple wears for the neighbors and parties and in the end we see it crumble down to see the false faces and mystery underneath. It is here that gossip grows and festers and feeds the media storm.

Detective Rhonda Boney – She has the clearest head in all of this and follows the evidence. She eventually loses the chance to take out Amy though after Amy plays a bigger game and the gets the media and police force on her side after her return. Kim Dickens was good and had great chemistry with all the characters she interacted with.

Nick – Nick is not a good person and I don’t like the character, even if I find him compelling. in the relationship he cheated on Amy, never communicated with her and just assumed things on her. For this reason I actually enjoyed some of the crap that got thrown his way. He was forced to grow and be accountable, which he never had to do before. I do think Amy was in the wrong and she is the antagonist, but Nick is not really the protagonist. He’s one of the players in the false marriage pretending to be someone he isn’t.

Desi Collings – Neil Patrick Harris plays a very terrifying millionaire ex-boyfriend in this…when she comes to him for safety he locks in his Lake House and forces her to become the woman he loved in the past. He never uses violence but the threat is always there, as well as her lack of choice. When they watch Nick’s “confession” and she falls back in love with Nick he turns it off and continues to pressure her to be his. He is an extremely polite and creepy character. I thought he might be the one to kill Amy actually if she didn’t kill herself. Luckily he gets his comeuppance when Amy murders him and makes her escape.

Amy – Amy is a chameleon…whether she was born that way or shaped by her parents who pressured her and made her into their tool for making money off books is unknown but she is smart, cruel and brutal. She is a chameleon because she becomes whatever her lover wants her to be, we see her thinking about this too when she first disappears framing Nick as she sees the different women she could become now. She is a fatalist too and sees completing her revenge with a suicide until she has a way out, which first is though Desi until she finds herself trapped again, like she was with Nick and when she was robbed in the Ozarks. She returns home and has power as the story has been hers all along and she forces Nick to stay. She is the winner of this story and we don’t know her motivations beyond wanting to have others be the way she wants them to be, which Nick becomes…though they are open to one another now. Her faked death leads to relationship honesty and the marriage “healing.” What a fantastic villain she was.

Okay: Amy’s Parents – We don’t really get their motivations and they were experts of the false face. I would have liked more on them to see just how much they shaped her into the calculating, destructive chameleon she is.

The Mistress – Nick’s mistress is kind of a blank slate. We don’t know her motivations for getting together with him and she seems to be there to show us Nick has secrets he’s hiding and a motivation to get rid of Amy. She isn’t bad, but she doesn’t function as much more than a plot device to explore the character of Nick.

This is a movie I’d highly recommend. It has a great critique of relationships, suburbia, and has great characters in the mystery. If you like David Fincher’s work, you’ll like this. If you like dark mysteries you’ll like this, and if you like critiques of humanity (most characters get critiqued in this), you will like this. It is well worth checking out and added to the list of favorite films.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10. Not higher because of how the mistress and parents are handled and the fact that we never know Amy’s motivations fully.

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