In the wake of one of Hollywood’s finest careers, David Fincher delivers one of his best films yet in the masterfully directed Gone Girl. An expert adaptation, the film is paced as a slow burning thriller with some of the best performances of the year in Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. Gone Girl is a darkly hilarious satire, a disturbingly accurate take on the media, a character study of a classic couple, and one hell of a thriller.
David Fincher has made a career as a brilliant director with a meticulously keen sense for detail. With Gone Girl, he crafts a thrilling whodunit that slowly evolves into a cross of many genres, including surprising amounts of satire and humor. The way the film uses the media is more than just a form of exposition; it plays a major role in the plot, personified as its own character, as well as being purposefully overemphasized to prove a satirical point. It’s critical and often hilarious without becoming distractingly cynical or melodramatic.
As with many of his films, Fincher delivers a masterwork of editing. Drawing inspiration from his other films, Gone Girl utilizes the multiple storyline and timeline elements of The Social Network and Fight Club’s well-executed and calculated addition of a plot twist, which is added in a way that adds up to the rest of the film’s continuity. Also notable is the screenplay, written by Gillian Flynn, the novel’s author. Flynn’s screenplay inserts the most interesting and core elements of the book, and courageously borrows entire scenes specifically. However, it’s very clear that the novel is adapted in a way that fits the specifications of a film, and is adapted in thus way.
Headlining the cast is Rosamund Pike, who delivers a feverishly complex performance as the titular character in an Academy Award worthy role. The confrontations and conversations throughout the film give Pike room to shine and superbly captures the spirit and complexities of the novel. Additionally, Ben Affleck is given a great role as the man caught unraveling his wife’s disappearance, giving one of the most vulnerable and powerfully “normal” performances of his career. But the most surprisingly great role here is that of Tyler Perry, who is perfectly cast as a hot shot lawyer who teaches Affleck the tricks of the trade. Kim Dickens and Carrie Coon are also strong in supporting roles, both of which are given surprising amounts of development for minor roles. Neil Patrick Harris is also strong, though he’s not given as much development as perhaps he should have.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross also add to Gone Girl’s suspense through their eerie, haunting score. Unlike the simple composition of their score for The Social Network, this score highlights the chaotic confusion of the film’s events. Jeff Cronenweth, David Fincher’s noted cinematographer since Fight Club, gives the film the complexity and suspense it deserves, as well as the beauty of its domestic setting. The most impressive aspect here is how the film handles exposition; instead of bombarding the audience with needless backstory, Gone Girl uses clever tricks to reveal important information to the audience without becoming unrealistic.
There are no real flaws in terms of Gone Girl’s composition, but there are certain elements that could have used expansion. Certain elements of the novel, namely the relationship that Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck have with their parents or the enigmatic behavior of Neil Patrick Harris’s character, are touched on in the film, but not fully expanded upon. Granted, these elements hardly detract from the film, but considering the source material there is room for more content. It’s likely that the film was cut to attract a larger audience (the film looms at a brisk 149 minutes), but the endlessly entertaining storylines give the film capabilities to go beyond its initial runtime.
Gone Girl is a masterpiece of modern cinema; a film that dares an audience to think and isn’t afraid to be both disturbing and humorous at the same time. David Fincher takes risks with the film that pay off to create a film that is pokes holes in the truths that hold up modern society. With a killer script, sharp dialogue, and expert performances, Gone Girl is one of the best films of the year. Grade: +A