I think it’s safe to say that this is the “it” movie right now. Everybody’s all abuzz about it. Of course, it seems like everybody’s been abuzz about Gone Girl since author Gillian Flynn released the book a little over two years ago. I remember several friends freaking out over the book and encouraging me to read it…which I promptly did not do. Nor did I read the book before going to see the film with a friend. I’m normally an advocate of reading the book before the movie, and I hate myself a little when I don’t do that. But in this case, I was actually glad I hadn’t read the book.
Here’s the thing about Gone Girl: there are so many sharp twists that the film might actually be more effective if you go in clueless. That’s not to say it’s an unsatisfying experience for anyone who has read the book—I went with someone who had, and she thought the movie was great—but I was pretty grateful that I was able to go in and allow the film to surprise me. And this film is definitely full of surprises.
Synopsis: “With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: The whole cast is really, really great, and in my humble opinion, the shining star is Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne. On the surface, Amy seems quite normal. But she has a dark streak, and she’s ruthlessly clever. That’s all I can say without delving into spoilers. Let’s just say that Pike’s performance was strong enough that I would not be surprised if she received an Oscar nomination for it (and I’m very much hoping she does). However, Ben Affleck’s performance as Amy’s husband, Nick, is pretty darn memorable, too. A lot of people seemed uncertain about Affleck in the role, but I think he pulled it off really well, somehow making us like a character who could easily come off as a huge jerk. Also memorable: Tyler Perry as slick lawyer Tanner Bolt (he was the biggest surprise for me—I did not think he would suit the role at all, but he’s pretty perfect), Neil Patrick Harris as Amy’s super creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings (though it’s very, very strange seeing NPH in a role like this), and Carrie Coon as Nick’s hilarious and witty twin sister Margo (quite possibly my favorite character). The cast as a whole is really strong. I don’t think I could name a bad actor among them. As I said in the intro, this is a film that has some several sharp twists, and I love how it keeps you guessing until the very end. It’s thoroughly engrossing, which is, of course, important for any film, but I feel like it’s especially important with a mystery like this. The dark humor is an especially important element in Gone Girl, providing a bit of levity in what could be a very heavy film. And can I just say how much I love the ending? It’s pretty open-ended, and it’s also very unsettling (which I mean in the best possible way).
Favorite Scene: Arrrggghhh how can I tell you this without spoiling anything?! Okay, so the film is basically split into two acts. My favorite scene involves the beginning of the second act. It’s the first of the film’s big twists, revealing one character’s very important scheme, and it takes the story into an entirely different direction. For those of you who have seen this, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t seen this, I’m sorry I can’t say more.
The Bad: If you want your main characters to be likable, this film might not be your thing. Honestly, the Nick and Amy aren’t the best people. They’re liars, schemers, and generally unhappy people. I know a few people who couldn’t get into the book because of that, so maybe it would affect your movie-going experience, too. The story was so interesting and the performances so great that I found it easy to get past that, but who knows—maybe some people wouldn’t. Also, I will admit that this film sometimes feels like a Lifetime movie. Have you guys seen any of the movies on the Lifetime channel before? If you haven’t, I don’t even know if I can describe them to you. You should watch one at some point just for the experience. Anyway, Gone Girl sometimes feels like a Lifetime movie—albeit the best and darkest Lifetime ever made. I think it’s just the whole “husband suspected of killing his wife and surrounded by news teams” thing. And, hey, if you like Lifetime movies, you might not consider this a bad thing.
Least Favorite Scene: This isn’t a single scene I guess, but I don’t love how quickly the film covers the shift in Amy and Nick’s marriage. Again, I don’t want to delve into spoilers, so we’ll just say that over the course of a few brief scenes their marriage seems to go from one extreme to the other. I’m sure this shift is a lot more gradual and effective in the book, but it doesn’t come across as well as it could’ve in the film.
To Sum It Up: This film has been stirring up buzz for a reason: it’s really good. A dark mystery with a compelling story and strong, interesting characters, Gone Girl is not only an excellent film, but it very well could be an Oscar contender. Yep. I said it. If this one sounds like your cup of tea, it is well worth the price of a movie ticket—even a full-price evening ticket. Yep. I said that, too. Go see Gone Girl, y’all. I doubt you’ll regret it.
My Grade: A