Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★½

So here I am, coming to bury Caesar, not praise him. Somehow I neglected to read the source novel here, but from all I’ve read at other sources, the screenplay (also written by Gillian Flynn) mirrored the novel almost completely – soooooo – the absurd Hollywood ending of the film (not giving away secrets here) – is not the fault of Hollywood at all… I guess.

Fincher has directed two films here – in the first he and the script are brilliant – nice camera angles, lighting and pace to go with a witty, intelligent script full of nice wordplay and a story that is both compelling and a condemnation of the 24 hour a day news media frenzy whereupon opinions get stated as facts. The story is beautifully told during the first half, alternating following Ben Affleck around and interjecting readings from his wife’s (Rosamund Pike) diary.

The story begins with Affleck walking into the bar that he runs with his twin sister (nicely played by Connie Coon). The two exchange some nice banter and end up playing the board game “Life”; which allows Affleck to murmur, “I just don’t see the point of this game”, to which Coon replies “Think Hasbro”. Shortly thereafter Affleck receives a call from a neighbor telling him that his “indoor” cat is wandering around outside their home. Affleck returns to rescue kitty, only to find signs of violence along with the disappearance of his wife. This is the jumping off point for the rest of the film, and for the first half it’s simply spell binding. Great performances from the aforementioned as, via the diary, the couple’s back story gets filled in.

As the film progresses the media takes over as a local detective (nicely nuanced by Kim Dickens) tries to unravel what Affleck is telling her, versus some odd bits of evidence that suggest, if nothing more, some strange behavior by Affleck.

We merrily sail along until about 2/3 of the way through when, in my opinion, things get a bit too bizarre (although still plausible). Then the script totally falls apart in an almost laughable third act, when the script attempts to show us how the twists and turns all fall into place by having Wifey tell her “story” during a “debriefing” with the FBI, CIA, local police and who knows – maybe the NSA and the dead, rotting corpse of J. Edgar Hoover himself. When the script gets too witty for its own good, and the cops start asking questions, oh I dunno, about serious plot holes… she feigns that she is tired and… that does it. Yeah, like the police are going to never question her ever again… oye!

The final nail in the coffin is that in this last act, Affleck, who until now is a regular, rational guy, does something that no sane person would even consider – man I hate it when a film insults your intelligence like this – and it’s even worse because the film was so brilliant in the first half.

So, as I mentioned, you have two films – the wondrous, perhaps Oscar worthy first half, and the weak, roll your eyes stupid climax and resolution. Unfortunate, because along the way there are some pretty keen observations about relationships and the whole Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus thing – with Flynn casting a sharp eye on relationships 101. Sad that it all fell apart so grandly, which I think was the consensus opinion of the audience as they walked out of the theater – many just shaking their heads in disbelief, as was I.

In the end I'm wondering the eternal reviewing question - if a beautifully constructed 5 star film is totally derailed by a preposterous, self serving, smarmy, childish (and I've got a million other adjectives for it) ending - then what should the overall rating be? Maybe I'm too harsh to give this a mere 2.5 stars, but the ending really pissed me off.

Block or Report

paul liked these reviews