Gone Girl (2014, Rated R)

Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Gillian Flynna
Cinematographer: Jeff Cronenweth
Staring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
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For a taught thriller like Gone Girl to work, every aspect of a production has to bring their A-Game. There can’t be many weak links or the careful balance necessary to maintain low grade tension falls apart. Thankfully, the cast and crew of Gone Girl are largely successful in pulling it off this juggling act.

David Fincher’s directorial choices are well suited for the material, which is to say that they are so understated as to be almost invisible. (No wild Fight Club tricks here.) The pacing of Kirk Baxter’s edits similarly serves the story.

While Jeff Cronenweth’s framing and lighting well fit the subject matter, the film is lessened by a very pedestrian color grade. It largely consists of the stereotypical Hollywood “teal & orange” which at this point in overuse is the equivalent of saying absolutely nothing with your color.

Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own book is well executed, showing a sensitivity to the differences between the two mediums…although it does suffer from an overly long coda. Lengthy denouements are often enjoyable in books, but rarely needed in movies. There are a few noticeable plot holes and character inactions that threatened to take me out of the story, but these are damn hard to avoid in this sort of story.

I found Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score serviceable, but I must admit to not being a fan of their low key, anti-melodic electronica. Nearly a century of symphonic scores has biassed me to equating synthesizer based soundtracks as sounding “cheap.”

All of the actors’ performances are up to snuff, with Rosamund Pike doing an exceptionally good job humanizing a challenging character. While there is nothing wrong with Ben Affleck’s performance, he was miscast for this role. By not casting the character as described in the book, an opportunity for a more complex character, and more complex movie, was lost. Neil Patrick Harris’ role comes-off as a distracting cameo. The film would have been better served by not casting a “celebrity” for this small, but critical part.

PS. Much ado has been made about a “new” ending for the movie as compared to the novel. However this idea propagated, it’s not true. The plot of the movie hews faithfully to the source material.

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