Pale Affleck and slowish stubborn start didn’t ruin Fincher’s manipulation game
If someone asked you how would you tell a story about a woman and all of the ways she can destroys a man’s life, what would you do?
“Gone Girl” is pretty much as if you have put Linklater’s love perception into Hitchcock’s head, and then combined it nicely with Nine Inch Nails’ post-industrial rock dark tones. Yes, it is always quite difficult to adapt a book, especially a bestseller such as this Gillian Flynn’s novel, but luckily David Fincher is not a rookie.
Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) are one of those perfect golden couples that probably 90% of women hate. They have excellent jobs as writers, fabulous house, perfect lives and a very calm yellowish cat. However, thanks to recession they both damage that amazing image, lose their job, move to another state and try to cope with the new, not quite perfect, relation. When you find out your beloved men is drinking alcohol in the morning, something’s not quite right hey?
Things get a lot worst when Amy disappears. Any disappearance is by default strange, but this one managed to be even stranger. The days go by with no sign of Amy. In the public eye Nick managed to transfer from worried husband to a possible killer in just 30 hours. On the other side, Fincher made sure we have a glance of Amy’s point of view via, of course why not, her diary. After all, what can a lonely and isolated woman do except write about failures, misjudgements, fear and dissatisfaction? The question is: what is with this disappearance really? What do we, viewers, get from it? Oh yes, everybody tried to get to the bottom of it until we reached 2/3 of the film. Something like Norman Bates in the woman’s body perhaps? Dunno. But that’s all I’m revealing. For now.
Yes, I feel bad for saying it, but my fears were justified. Ben Affleck was definitely a bad choice here. He managed to integrate easily, but that’s surely due to the characteristics of his role, not his quality as an actor. The more harsh way of saying this would be that Affleck neatly follows the sentence which repeats the most in the film “everything else is just background noise”. He’s almost as that background noise. On the other hand, Rosamund Pike showed an amazing side of what she can really do (it is surely due to Fincher’s ability to get the best out of you) and let me tell you viewers will hate her character in “Gone Girl” for years to come. Isn’t that the best possible proof that you, as a villain, did a hell of a good job? Are we sensing an Oscar nomination. She would surely deserve it.
Usually we neglect some characters in a ‘busy’ movie such as this one, but I have to mention a very effective ‘TV involvement’ in this film, especially the work of Carrie Coon (who plays Margo, Nick’s twin sister) and Neil Patrick Harris (who plays Desi, Amy’s ex).
But what about David Fincher? What about a cinematic genius who stands behind brilliance of “Se7en”, “Fight Club” and “Zodiac”? This was definitely not an easy job, especially if we bare in mind that he wanted to highlight many things all at once, using the same amount of material. Let’s go from the beginning where he exercised Linklater’s innovation about relationship. Yes, it’s all about the conversation people! After seeing the way Fincher presented the fluidity between two pretty much regular people, you can only be jealous and envious. And then, after adding some dramatic cut-outs in editing, combining it with some very effective music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (let’s not forget that this duo have an Oscar for the Best Original Score for Fincher’s “The Social Network”), you’re left with a freaky popping-eyes effect. Who knows his work will surely not be surprised by his ‘time challenge’ in the film, because if there’s anything Fincher likes, it is to play with is time frames (you will re-think “Zodiac” on more than one occasion).
I am sure many will agree that he could have lived without certain frames, certain solutions and dialogues (sometimes even disappointing), but nevertheless this script and Fincher’s magic wand made this film into a shocking and provoking piece of art. I am sure you will notice lots of connections with his previous work which I was please to see. It’s very satisfying when one of your favourite film directors still possesses those elements you liked in his previous pieces.
Naturally, Fincher found the most interesting game in the manipulation – the psychological power of media and every single person in it and his/her way of using it. And let me tell you, he nailed that part! Are we searching and using every possible way to manipulate every day, or occasionally playing psychologists to people around us? Maybe not in the psychotic way as in this case, but yes we do. Both. And we find it very natural. You’ll see.