Am I the only one? Gone Girl just didn’t work for me, although I will give it a great casting award. Overall though, it’s not the Academy Award nominee they are speaking about. Sometimes more is just more, not better, and this movie contains too many twists and turns, too many scenes, and too many flawed characters to have it come together like the symphony it could have been. Editing. It’s always in the editing.
Let’s do casting. Affleck is always good as an imperfect person, and judging from my one exposure to him smoking a cigar at a restaurant in New York City like a pompous, self-centered asshole, I have a feeling he is perfect for that role. Unjustified cockiness always makes a man vulnerable to a woman smarter than himself. Rosmund Pike won the role of Amy over Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, and Natalie Portman, all of whom would have been safer box-office draw choices. it was a bold move that paid off. She is great in the role, although you are never taken in to like her, and that’s a bit of a problem. How did she fool him when she never fools us?
And, the title Gone Girl? She is no ‘girl,’ and the titled bothered me when I read the book as well.
Then there is the introduction of Amy as a bad girl, which comes too early in the plot for the likes of me; I prefer a slow build in a movie. So if you have to bring her out into the open early, do it from the get-go so we are not led on a wild goose chase that goes nowhere. A movie needn’t follow a book chapter and verse, and this one could have been dissected much better by changing the Amy arc.
But there is an issue even larger than Amy’s exposure. You have to compare Gone Girl with the best of the best of the very bad girl thriller movies, Basic Instinct, in which Sharon Stone takes us on a whirlwind ride of stress and uncertainty that makes a thriller a thriller. And when you hold Gone Girl up next to Basic Instinct, Gone Girl comes up short on every front. I think it’s the script, direction, and music.
Basic Instinct was tight with very little dialogue; it was all in the action. It had stronger music and visuals that led you to your own conclusions, whereas Gone Girl is in your face, chock full of too many scenes with too much happening in them. Did we need to see her lose her money and change her plan? Did we need to have his father show up at the police station? None of those things and other subplots advanced the plot, which should have taken an hour and a half to unfold instead of two and a half. Edit. Edit. Edit. It’s the mark of a great storyteller, to know when you are taking too long to tell the story, and I fear that David Fincher just couldn’t figure that out. And he hasn’t had that issue in the past, which leads me to think that he let the book drive the movie, and he shouldn’t have.
Then we move to the music. The people who created the score actually said they felt it was like serving milk that was one day spoiled, and I couldn’t agree more. Music should drive the bus of my emotions in a thriller, and it didn’t.
Then there is the deja vu issue that leads me to wonder if the book is based on the real list story of Lace Peterson. That first hour and a half is a literal repeat of the Laci story, who was in fact pregnant and murdered by her louse of a husband Scott Peterson. Peterson played the terrified husband in front of the cameras, only to become the most reviled man in the country after his girlfriend, who didn’t know he was married, exposed him for the cad he was. I wonder if the Peterson case drove the idea for the book? Can’t say for sure, but it was there on the screen from the get-go, and I for one just couldn’t shake the feeling that a different ending would have been more plausible. And to make it even more like those events in 2006, Ben looks like Scott Peterson. Yuck.
Then we move on to the fact that there are too many loose ends. Wouldn’t the couple who stole her money have recognized her when she returned? Was there only a 24-hour video take at the house? Did his sister have no other life? Her parents? Seriously? I know, I know. Picky, picky, picky. But in a thriller, buttoning up the details and making a clear road to the end is critical, and for me, Gone Girl was just all over the place.
Oh and one more thing. As I re-read this, I think it’s disjointed and all over the place with thoughts that don’t flow together. Oh, wait. So my review mirrors the movie. And, why wouldn’t it?