Gone Girl: a clever mystery with a chilling end

gone girl

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.

gone girl 2

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. :/

gone girl 3

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

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50 thoughts on “Gone Girl: a clever mystery with a chilling end

  1. You’re favorite scene – I was just thinking this was OK up until that part, but I really liked it and it made the movie more enjoyable to the end : )

  2. great spolier-free review of a film that i enjoyed a lot, although i am not sure i would be in a rush to see it again. i had read the book, and i won’t quibble about the differences between the novel and the film. it’s a bit ‘finchery’ (not in a good way) but as you point out the performances are amazing. I expect Pike to get an Oscar nom, ditto Carrie Coon. I was disappointed in Neil Patrick Harris, but I think that’s because his charcter was very badly written (actually, underwritten: in all the hoopla about how the book is diff. from the movie, it’s how his character is written in the book/film that has been overlooked). But still, good film, one of those you feel compelled to see only because everyone else is talking about it.

    • Thank you, Niall! I’m glad you liked this one. Yeah it seems people who have read the book are pretty disappointed with NPH’s interpretation of his creepy character. I’d be interested in seeing how different he is in the book (which I really, really need to read). I would definitely love to see an Oscar nom for Pike, and Coon would be fantastic, too. We’ll see what happens, I suppose…

  3. quite unbelievable. Least unbelievable scene – she leaves the hospital after being examined and doing a press conference while still covered in the blood of her apparent kidnapped/rapist. Really? That was just done so she could do a shower scene at home. Not sure how it was in the book. Not believable no matter what.

  4. Great review! This was incredibly entertaining, wonderfully acted–Rosamund Pike and Carrie Coon in particular, and Tyler Perry was surprisingly good–and it nicely combined elements of horror, satire, and mystery along with another great Reznor score.

    • Thanks, friend! Agreed on all fronts–although, admittedly, I had to look up Reznor on IMDb. Haha. I’m not great about keeping up with composers. Did not realize he was behind The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!

  5. Great review, Cara! Happy to see how much you enjoyed this. Know what? Read the book now. If you liked the character of Amy (I did too – she’s awesome), you get a far more in depth look at her in the book. I think you’d enjoy reading it. They did a great job with the characters in the movie but her character is SO complex in the book. Pike was excellent, though! Loved her. 🙂

    • Thanks, lady! I intend to read the book…someday. Lol. I don’t know if I’d say I LIKED Amy…but I found her really interesting, and I thought Pike was awesome in the role. It’s just one of those films with strong performances across the board.

  6. I have no idea how I can review this without spoilering the film. I loved the book. Film is very impressive. Didn’t like the way Neil Patrick Harris captured his character, or the way it was written but no other major quibbles really.

    • It was definitely tricky to review this without spoilers. I considered giving up and including spoilers, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it! Lol. I’ve heard a lot of people say they didn’t love NPH. I’m wondering if I’ll change my opinion about him once I read the book…

  7. Gone Girl feels like one of the first true contenders for the podium next February. I can’t believe how good it was. Usually I have an issue with Fincher’s run times (he averages over 2 hrs), but this film almost seemed too short! You know a movie has done its job when you feel like that at the end of a 2 hr 25 min sit!!! Great review Miss Cara!!!

    • Thanks, Tom! And yaaayyy glad to hear you enjoyed this one, too!! I really do hope it steals an Oscar or two–one for Pike at the very least. And I know what you mean about the film’s length. That is definitely a clear sign that it’s a success. 🙂

  8. Excellent review. I still haven’t gotten to this, but I have my fingers crossed for this weekend, it is something I have really, really wanted to get to! Glad to see it seems that every one of you probies that have seen it so far have enjoyed it.

      • Let me just tell you, my USELESS cinema took it off circuit, it didn’t even have a full two week run, but they have other movies still running that have been on for a month and a half. I was fuming about that over the weekend. I mean REALLY now?!

        Guess I will have to be waiting for the DVD release 😦

        • You have no idea how useless our cinema is. When The Dark Knight came, it got screened for a week, but Rush Hour 3 was up for three months. It’s useless.

          LOL ask Eric about the state of striking in this country 😉 Another protest may just cripple us!

        • Wow. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. A protest at a movie theater might cripple you?! Well that sounds like a fragile situation…lol.

        • LOL my country PROTESTS. All the time. Our post office has been striking for three months now with no change in the situation foreseeable. It’s getting out of hand haha. There’s always a strike somewhere… :/

  9. Excellent review Cara! Glad it worked for you as much as it did for me. I hope the film gets some Oscar recognition – I’d particularly love to see Rosamund Pike get the nod for Best Actress. I’m right there with you in regards to Carrie Coon too, she’s a delight in this.

    Adam.

    • Thanks, Adam! Yes, I thought it was fantastic, and I definitely hope it gets some Oscar love! Pike and Coon were both so great. Pike already seems to have herself pretty established, but I really hope this brings Coon some more roles! Would love to see her in other things.

  10. Amazing review. I too enjoyed this immensely. Just only one scene near the end that I felt was too over the top, wanted more subtlety there. But still, a must watch for anyone who enjoys movies!

      • That sex scene at the end just felt like way too much to me. Looked visually awesome, but I just feel like some subtlety would have been better served there. Still an top-notch movie however.

        • Yeah I feel you. I guess it didn’t bother me, but I know it drives me a little crazy when stuff like that feels forced into a movie. Glad you still enjoyed the movie so much though!

  11. FYI on the book before film scenario. I read Before I go to Sleep before I saw the film and in knowing all the twists and turns made the film utterly boring and it felt like it dragged on forever. I was sat waiting for the next thing to happen. I would definitely suggest either film first then book or scrap the film all together.

    Anywho, great review for Gone Girl, I initially gave it a 7/10 as I was disappointed with the twists (I expected more shock, I kind of guessed most of the twists before they happened) but in hindsight I think that could be upgraded to an 8/10 as it is a very well made film and the acting is fantastic.

    – Jenna

    • Yeah it’s a fine line with the book to film stuff, huh? You want to make the readers happy, but you always want to throw in something new enough to make them feel like it’s worth watching it. Sorry to hear Before I Go to Sleep was a disappointment, but I’m glad to hear you liked Gone Girl–even if you were able to predict the twists. Really, the performances were a big portion of what made the film for me. Just so good.

    • Thanks, lady! Yeah…I’m a very slow reader. Like, I start a book, and then forget and/or don’t have time to read, so I can be on one book for months. It’s bad. Haha. But Gone Girl is on my list now, so hopefully I’ll get to it some time before I die. Lol. But yes–really enjoyed the movie!

  12. Reblogged this on Silver Screen Serenade and commented:

    Today’s Oscar Nom reblog really should’ve been nominated for more, in this gal’s humbled opinion, but as it stands, it is nominated for a lone Oscar, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, thanks to an amazing performance by Rosamund Pike. I am talking, of course, about Gone Girl.

  13. As it stands now, this occupies my top spot for 2014 with Pike as my runaway best actress. I’ve got lots more to see, but both are going to be hard to beat. Great review.

    • Thanks, Dell! I would absolutely love to see Pike win Best Actress…but I’m worried Julianne Moore is going to beat her. She’s been getting a lot of praise for her performance. I’d just really like to see Gone Girl walk away with SOMETHING…

  14. i just re-watched this and am posting a new review on, appropriately, Valentine’s Day 🙂 Now that it’s several months after the initial brouhaha, I found it far less compelling. I had originally given it 4 stars; now it gets only 3 from me. I thought the Neil Patrick Harris role was underwritten, but he’s very good in it. Music is all wrong, and ultimately it was just too “Finchery” for me, and not in a good way. I liked the book; I think they should have hired a different screenwriter as Flynn was obviously too close to the material

    • Well I’m sorry you felt that way, Niall! Totally worked for me. Although it might make a difference that I haven’t read the book. Lol. Yikes. Maybe not the best one to post on Valentine’s Day though…bahaha. 😉

        • i agree; i don’t think it will win either. i suspect either birdman or boyhood will. In fact, GBH has 9 noms, but I think it might only get 2 (production design and script, and the script win is not assured)

        • Yeah, I’ve thought the same thing. I’d love to see it win more–and I really hope it does–but I guess we’ll have to see. I also think Ralph Fiennes should’ve gotten a Best Actor nom…but that’s another can of worms. Lol.

        • I guess, to be fair, there really were a lot of strong lead male performances this year, but yeahhh…There were plenty of other unfortunate snubs, too. :/

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