Gone Girl (2014) Directed by David Fincher

Today is my birthday. I have had a beautiful day – I love Mondays anyway, so to have my birthday to myself on 'a regular day at work' was perfect. Of course it wasn't that regular, because I spent a huge chunk of my day replying to people's beautiful messages of good wishes. What an uplifted feeling it is to just receive birthday wishes. Thank you! It is now two years from the time that I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. Although I am fine right now, thoughts of our mortality and the fear of getting ill again linger around. I got the diagnosis so close to my birthday that now I deal with the aftermath each time I celebrate the years that pass. It is because of this bad fortune that I also celebrate with more sincere happiness and with no sadness about getting older. At thirty four life appears in more vivid colors: it is more sad, more amazing, beautiful, meaningless and meaningful at the same time. I have much to be thankful for. To get to talking about the movie we are reviewing today, I am no Gone Girl.

Rosamund Pike as Amy
Although I had read reviews of Gone Girl and could imagine that I would find it troubling and difficult to relate to, I was surprised by the movie. I was looking forward to being entertained, thrilled even. I wish the film had offered something truly new and interesting to surprise me with – a perspective yet unseen. No. Gone Girl surprised me with its stiffness. It is just a messy misogynist scramble with strange choices of style and direction. The movie insults on many levels: it makes assumptions and claims about women in general and then it delivers the story in a condescending way assuming things about the audience. The female lead (played by Rosamund Pike) is a psychopath character, whose need for perfection masks her blood thirst. The boring thing is that the film attempts to justify her complete deranged manners by referring to a childhood spent with parents who wrote books about her. Gone Girl plays with the basic gender stereotypes such as women are really cunning in general. This could all come from the book Gone Girl, but I would not know and it is actually all the same to me now.

But let's talk about Ben Affleck. The man that apparently can be true to one person and that is Matt Damon...haha! Talk about typecasting here: Affleck plays Nick, the simple-minded good bloke, whose only fault is that he cannot help but stick his dick in some places where he should not. He is the victim here – the target of all the plotting and revenging that Amy can come up with. He's your meat-and-potatoes hunk, who has a bit of a temper and a drinking problem but who really just is a 'normal white guy'. He is also a hopeless wimp who even after discovering that his wife is a deranged murderer resolves to living with her. How infuriating. Sometimes I'm not sure if this movie aims to make me mad and is thus working, or if it is just so off-the-radar stupid. Think of a movie like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Now that's a great film about the limits of love and hate, a marriage and its more toxic moments. Gone Girl is a satire upon a satire. It is so emotionless and cold that it is easy to forget and file next to 'never re-watch'.

It's time we had a chat about David Fincher. David was a precocious talent who had a gift for the frame (and was pretty handy at selling things too). He was a veritable walking and talking snap crackle and pop of an ad/video director. In this world, he was the man. It was only a matter time till the big guns came calling and threw David in at the deep end. It was a huge splash (but maybe not the kind David was used to making). One of the most beloved franchises (the Alien variety) had it first real downward curve at the hand's of David's compromised direction. Still, I'm a fanboy of Alien3 and enjoyed it. Undeterred, David came back strong with the groundbreaking and shocking Se7en.  At the least it indicated that David had found the button marked 'Brad Pitt can act a bit and is more useful than eye candy'. As if to hammer home a point, David became the king of movie hipsters with the very astute and violent Fight Club and this time discovered Ed Norton (at least in a meaningful way). This movie was a great end of millennium piece of nihilism that felt it had grabbed the zeitgeist. So far so good (and let's forget The Game and Panic Room because most other people have). Which brings me to one of my favourite films of recent times Zodiac, David's homage to 1970's New Hollywood cinema and the best thing he's made by a country mile. After this, things get a little icky, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and The Social Network (surely the most overrated movie of this century?) both show a move away from David's Fincher style. These movies both felt more general and let's face it, they could have been made by anyone. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a return to form and a keeper. Now, up to date,  I'm afraid we have to discuss Gone Girl.

Rosamund Pike as Amy (the role of a lifetime?)
I haven't read Gillian Flynn's source novel, but she gives some indication of its level by supplying the screenplay here. The voiceover in movies can be problematic. The most obvious recent offender was Harrison Ford' s voiceover on Blade Runner which has been removed from subsequent cuts of the film (it didn't bother me so much). Fincher has fared well in the past with Norton's narration on Fight Club bringing much to that picture. Rosamund Pike's voice over for Gone Girl is a stinker. Her tone, patronizing and all knowingly smug, makes you want to put your head through the screen to smash it and to make it STOP! In using this device to get intimate with Gone Girl's central character Amy, Fincher fucks up mightily. It's very much the case that both Pike and Ben Affleck (as her husband Nick) come over as the most odious, pampered and privileged people ever to share the big screen. This creates the effect that I'm quite happy if both central characters face a grisly death, if only to put me out of my misery of watching anymore of Gone Girl.

Ben Affleck plays Nick (wooden) 
Fincher has created a picture based on the premise of someone going missing and us actually giving a fuck. We don't. Many have suggested Gone Girl is a severe critique of the worst aspects of the media (it's cliched actually) while others have accused the film of misogyny. Alternatively, some have claimed Gone Girl presents Amy as a feminist. Guess what, it's neither. Gone Girl is an expertly shot movie with a slick technical proficiency. But like much of Fincher's later work, it's cold. This also leans heavily as trash dressed up as high art whilst also thinking it's great satire. The performances are average at best, the script embarrassing at times, the suspense hinges on us caring for these cardboard characters. The best I can say for Gone Girl is it should have stayed gone. Fincher is well loved by the establishment, and much of the good will given to Gone Girl was surely based on reputation. Fincher's cinema increasingly focuses on a neoconservative gaze that reflects a certain discourse happening now. I wish he could find his soul and given us something else, something to feel.


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