I never imagined I would say the following: The best part of the new film from David Fincher, director of one of my favorite films (The Social Network), is Tyler Perry. To be clear, this is not necessarily a slight against Fincher as Perry is awesomely funny as a badass defense attorney in this movie. However, it isn’t particularly encouraging when your favorite part of a movie is the comic relief from the core story.
Gone Girl is the new Hollywood adaptation of the international bestselling book of the same name by Gillian Flynn. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne’s (Ben Affleck) wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), goes missing. Nick never seems particularly shocked or worried about the situation. The media obsesses over the story and examines Nick, wondering whether or not he murdered her based on his general lack of reaction to the situation. He doesn’t seem sad, concerned, or remorseful, he’s just normal. The media assumes this coldness is evidence that he murdered Amy, but the movie’s audience knows that he was not home to murder her. The entire situation simply doesn’t add up and it’s not supposed to; plot twists and mysteries are abound in Gone Girl.
The whole enterprise feels familiar for Fincher. The beautifully grim cinematography, the cold and calculated shot composition, the oddly fascinating female lead with violent tendencies, and the exciting slate of plot twists. Each of these characteristics fit the bill of Fincher’s last film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but in Gone Girl are duller, less intellectually intriguing, and as a result, more boring. I really don’t know what the purpose of this movie was. Is this supposed to be engrossing pulp or is there something deeper that I don’t see? What attracted Fincher to this project when it seems he’s mostly repeating recent steps? The main reaction I have to Gone Girl is a newfound interest to revisit The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Overall, the film is still a great pulp-thriller done by a power team of artists (Fincher, Reznor and Ross, Cronenweth, Affleck & Pike). One scene in particular, in which a box cutter is used in a climactic moment in the film, was visually memorable and deliciously uncomfortable to observe. It also has a remarkably enjoyable dark humor throughout that I absolutely loved. The general negativity of my immediate reaction is more a response to what I hoped the movie could be. I can’t say I’m anxiously awaiting a second viewing of Gone Girl, but perhaps on second viewing Fincher’s intentions will be more clear.