NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: Calculated, meticulous, and completely engaging, David Fincher tackles one of his freshest and stylish films of his career with the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl.” Intelligently structured by novelist Flynn herself, the film features a mannered turn by Academy Award winner Ben Affleck while the absolute success of the picture is indebted to the lavish and grandiose performance of Rosamund Pike.
If you are unaware with the story, stay clear of any plot spoilers as possible. Obviously I always respect such a demand. Simply put, the film tells the story of Amy Dunne (Pike) who disappears from her home on the day of her fifth wedding anniversary to her husband Nick (Affleck).
We have to applaud Gillian Flynn, a novelist turned screenwriter that composes a tense and mystery story that evokes a fascinating social commentary on marriage and media. A taut thriller, some of which may find bloated, but still satisfying by credits end. There are quibbles you can find in certain character motivations or certain events that lead to our ultimate resolution but it’s not enough to ruin the experience. Flynn launches herself in the Oscar race for Best Adapted Screenplay with a very good chance of standing on stage this year.
On one hand we have Ben Affleck, an actor of considerable talent that showcases another notch in his belt for his career. Reserved and orchestrated with impressive restraint, Affleck keeps the audience on the edge of their seats with audible suspicion. We’ve seen him in movies like “Hollywoodland” and “Argo,” both of which brought him great acclaim. This will likely be one that will follow suit.
Unfortunately must admit that I discovered the beautiful Rosamund Pike in Lone Scherfig’s “An Education” over five years ago. Since then, I’ve only gotten glimpses in features like “Made in Dagenham” and “Jack Reacher.” A career topping turn as evolved in her newest work as Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl.” I don’t think I’ve seen a more complex female character that allows an actress to go places we haven’t seen in quite some time. Pike is a revelation, an actress that should run the gauntlet for every Best Actress award in 2014. She’s passionate, intense, and damn near impenetrable, taking risks that pay off for every single movie moment she’s involved in. I absolutely loved her.
You can’t deny that meticulous and craftsman genius that is embedded within director David Fincher. “The Social Network” and “Se7en” have been prime examples of how to tell a well executed story. Stylistically, “Gone Girl” offers nothing amazingly new for his repertoire. Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth uses his same techniques that have made him one of the most exciting cinematographers of today. The real technical highlight is the score of Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Balanced, unsettling, and musically tense, the duo develop another stunning score for the year.
The supporting cast all have high points, most notably the spunky Carrie Coon of HBO’s “The Leftovers.” Her quirk and ferocity stand up as an unforgettable highlight. Tyler Perry gives the world a terrific example of life outside “Madea” and by God, I want some more. He steals many of his scenes shared with his co-stars. Neil Patrick Harris also delivers in his brief amount of screen time, one that will channel a new generation’s Anthony Perkins. Kim Dickens, Casey Wilson, Patrick Fugit, and ESPECIALLY Missi Pyle make their marks accordingly. Don’t be surprised to see the Screen Actors Guild cite this for Best Cast Ensemble.
As a vehicle for awards players, the big chances will stand for Screenplay and Best Actress, both of which are win-worthy. In some ways, I feel Fincher has crafted his equivalent to Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed,” and obviously that worked out for very well for the overdue director. This is something that audiences will eat up, talk about at their water coolers, and probably revisit for years to come. It’s hard to imagine how an awards member will see it but it will definitely appeal to many out there.
“Gone Girl” is an undeniable winner. Haunting, unpredictable, and completely unforgettable, Fincher’s film stands tall as one of the best things to be produced this year. Their might be similarities to “Prisoners,” maybe even “Psycho,” but “Gone Girl” has enough going for itself to stand on its own.
The film is distributed by 20th Century Fox and will be released in theaters on October 3.