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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Secrets Have a Way of Surfacing: “Gone Girl”

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

There is something hauntingly incongruous about the juxtaposition of lush, rolling green hills, leafy expanses of riverbanks, and decaying Southern town with a sudden disappearance-feared-horrible-murder and yet director David Fincher manages to fit those things together flawlessly in the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. If you haven’t read the book or seen the film please be aware that there may be spoilers in this review.

Flynn actually wrote the screenplay adaptation of her 2012 best selling novel, a detail that may be the reason the story of a marriage fallen apart in the most quietly horrific of ways translated to screen so well. The novel is thick with intricate details provided by highly unreliable narrators. The film does an excellent job of transforming one of the narrators to being the focal point while maintaining the twist and detail of the story and it’s one doozy of a story: a wife disappears on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary and it begins to look more and more like the too-familiar tale of “the husband did it.” Except as the story unfolds we come to discover that there is no “it” and the husband, while not a great human being, certainly didn’t do it. There is far more to the missing wife than her presented disappearance. There is something truly and disturbingly wrong about this woman and about nearly every other person in the story and the deeper one gets into the tale the darker and more uncomfortable it becomes.

The film never really dips too far into the depraved depths. However, Fincher does an impeccable job at doing what Fincher does best: creating a tight, superbly polished product that makes you content to glide along the beauty of that pristine surface. For some movies, that would be maddening, but here it is pitch perfect. In a sense the entire story of Gone Girl is about appearance, first about a picture-perfect marriage between impossibly beautiful people, then about the appearances of what grief and worry are “supposed” to look like, and ultimately about what passes for the bondage of love. It is the surface so brightly polished that allows for the reflection of reality.

And in that reflection the cast truly shines. Ben Affleck is perfectly cast as demonized husband Nick Dunne. Affleck is a man who has been loved and hated and loved again in turn by the media so settling into Nick is almost seamless. Affleck also does an impeccable job of portraying the small-town Missouri politeness (at one point in the film Nick explains that his mother raised him to be polite and kind and Affleck carries it off perfectly) as well as the soft, not-quite lilting hum of a Southeastern Missouri accent. Carrie Coon is flawless as Nick’s twin, Margo, playing her with the exact level of sass to balance Affleck’s seemingly chivalrous Nick. Neil Patrick Harris is so spot on creepy that I will never be able to see him quite the same way again and Tyler Perry? I forgot this man made his career on being Madea.

The only real falter in the cast is Rosamund Pike as the missing wife, Amy Dunne. In the novel there are two very distinct and different versions of Amy and she is supposed to be a very dynamic character. Instead, Pike’s Amy comes across with a completely flat affect, even in the scenes of the film reflecting happier times. Pike is one-note the entire time, which serves well in some of the most-chilling of scenes, but otherwise just hangs on the screen like an irritating smudge. Amy is supposed to be an outsider-type character as compared to the good folks of North Carthage, but Pike utterly fails at presenting herself as a New Yorker. It is obvious at multiple points of the film that Pike is British. She struggles to maintain an American accent a few times.

Overall the film is very well done. The story may be deeply disturbing but the film is excellent: well-written, nearly perfectly acted, and superbly shot in real-life beautiful river town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Bottom line: brace yourself for a few graphic scenes and an uncomfortable story but absolutely go see it. This one is an Oscar contender for sure.

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2 Comments on “Secrets Have a Way of Surfacing: “Gone Girl””

  1. Andrew Rogers October 6, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    I agree with everything about your review except one thing: the casting of Rosamund Pike. I totally agree that Fincher did a great job of keeping the plot tight and satisfying the audience with a surface level approach. For me, though, I felt more like Ben Affleck had the flat performance and Rosamund had the dynamic performance. It’s true that her role requires that from her, but I genuinely felt happy for them in the beginning and jarred by her near the end of the film. As for the slip of her accent, I never noticed it. That said, I did not read the book before seeing the film, but my friend did and both of us were quite satisfied with the film and, especially, her performance. If she is nominated for an Oscar this season, I won’t be surprised. That said, that’s what makes movies (and art in general) so great. We’re free to disagree!

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    […] her novel Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn defines the perfect girl of the twenty-first century. The novel’s primary […]

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