Friday, February 13, 2015

Gone Girl 2014

         The word on this film early last fall was good. It was to open the New York Film Festival and the stars of the film Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were featured on the cover of the influential and well respected magazine Film Comment, and sight unseen was being touted as a strong contender for a slew of Oscars. But what happened? Last month’s nominations gave the film only one nod for Pike’s thrilling and superb performance.
              I saw the film the other night and I found it to be a compelling thriller with globs of horror thrown in for good measure. I must be careful here not to give anything anyway because the film is a twisty ride on a very narrow road. The plot concerns a marriage, the husband and wife are played by Ben Affleck (who disproves the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that there are no 2nd acts in American lives, indeed Affleck proves that there might even be a 3rd act) and Rosamund Pike who are about to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary when upon returning home from a visit to a small bar he owns with his twin sister in the small run down Missouri town of his childhood finds that there appears to have been a break in and his wife is missing. I can say that their marriage is a mess without giving away much.
               The couple find themselves in this small dull and dismal place after living a rich and on the town life in Manhattan where they were both writers but have lost their jobs and have returned to his hometown so they can lick their wounds and Affleck can take care of his terminally ill mother. Like many films of this ilk there are some mighty big holes and improbable threads weaving its way through the story and one should not look too closely at the worn and thin fabric.
             The rest of the film follows the course of the inquiry and search for Pike with lots of flashbacks and along the way the director David Fincher dissects marriage and families, the media, celebrity, small town life, justice both poetic and legal and the damage that having, wanting and needing money can do. Based on the big best selling novel by Gillian Flynn who also did the tight screenplay and directed by Fincher who basically is a “B” director in “A” clothing and who has made some pretty good films like “Zodiac” and “Seven” that fit securely in the noir and thriller genre.
              Fincher is a throwback to the great noir directors of the 40’s and early 50’s like Billy Wilder, Anthony Mann and others and to those great pulp writers like James Cain, Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich (William Irish). One can easily imagine Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray, John Garfield and Lana Turner slinking,  sashaying  and slashing their way through these meaty roles of husband and wife.
                    The plot is thick, steamy and grim with sharp edges (think of paper cuts) and with dangerous turns and curves that kept me entertained (a terrible adjective I know  to use for such a nasty film) and guessing for its nearly 2 ½ running time. And indeed some may do some running out of their living rooms when a scene that would put a smile on Sweeny Todd’s face comes on. With a good and unexpected supporting cast including Tyler Perry as a Johnny Cochran type lawyer (“I get a one hundred and fifty thousand dollar retainer”) Neil Patrick Harris as a foolish former suitor of Pike’s and Kim Dicken’s as the tough suspicious detective. 


Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter