This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
🇵🇱 Steve G 🇵🇸’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Everything you thought you knew was wrong.
That was the phrase that kept playing through my mind as Gone Girl pootled along its merry way towards its climax. For some reason I thought that David Fincher was a director that I loved, you see, but now I realise my opinion on him is not that but more that he's a director that interests me. And not necessarily in good ways.
It interests me, for instance, that aside from Se7en, I just find that his 'proper' crime films haven't really worked for me as I expected them to. As fascinating as I found the plot, I found Zodiac to be beset with bad casting choices and odd pacing. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo didn't iron out some of the massive problems I felt the original film had and actually added to them - something I really expected him to do better with.
And now Gone Girl. Much like the two films made above, they're absolutely meticulously made. They look incredible. They sound incredible. They're acted incredibly. They just tick all the right boxes on the surface and I can see why they're so highly thought of. But that just doesn't fly with me. Each time Fincher makes a crime film now, he could be mistaken for looking like he's trying to wash away the filth of Se7en.
That's almost certainly NOT what he's doing, for the record, and I don't really believe that. But if you were to draw that conclusion, despite so much evidence to the contrary, I think you would have some traction for believing it. Se7en was a rightly grotty, despair inducing thriller with a horribly pessimistic ending following on from some of the most disgusting murders I'd ever seen.
So why do I feel like Gone Girl is the third in a trilogy of films that feel like they've been slung in with his latest load of laundry. Even as Rosamund Pike finishes mounting Neil Patrick Harris after she's slashed his throat and wallows around in blood, it looks like a flipchart of airbrushed magazine images. It's a startling image, sure, but it's just not how I would like to see this scene play out. It's not nearly as horrible as it should be. In fact, nothing is here.
Gone Girl was filled with just too many outright dunces and caricatures for what should be a very interesting story to work for me. Everyone's either a total dumb shit or a 'roided up parody of a dumb shit or reactionary right wing news TV bigot or trailer park criminal or hotshot celebrity lawyer or know-all detective. Just absolutely nobody here was convincing aside from Ben Affleck and Carrie Coon and in a film that has so many characters in it, that's some bad shit.
The media mocking is stuff that I've seen done before so many times and yet Fincher fills this film to the brim with it. I'm tired of this bollocks, I really am. I don't need fictional films to give me representations of these pricks, I can find Sky News or Fox News myself, thanks. I was pleading with him to work with the plot, tell us more about a couple of characters who could have done with a bit more airtime.
Was Scoot McNairy's character as blameless as he claims to be, for instance? He uses a very dudebro-ish phrase to describe Pike's rear end that felt like it was hung out there by Fincher for me to draw a conclusion about McNairy that I never came close to being given the chance to elaborate on or confirm? As it is, the scene is useless. It tells us nothing we didn't already know about Pike at this point.
Can I see and hear a bit more about the relationship between Harris and Pike? Because as it stood I thought it was completely ridiculous. I couldn't tell if the artificiality of it was down to Harris and Pike's performances or because Fincher was trying to frame it that way for some bloody reason. But I just didn't believe this for one minute, no matter what mental health condition we're meant to presume Harris is afflicted with.
Oh, and there's one more thing. So, Lola Kirke and Pike sit there watching TV together - the aforementioned knee-jerk right wing news show. They're watching images of Pike. On the TV. And Pike is sat there. Right next to Kirke. She's cut her hair and dispensed with the makeup. That's her disguise. And Kirke doesn't suspect for one minute that the lady on the TV IS SITTING RIGHT THE FUCK NEXT TO HER? On top of that, she doesn't even suspect anything when she drops a big wad of cash and then tries to clear out?
Throw in the issue that, despite her relative fame, I don't believe for one second that so much publicity would be generated by her disappearance just a day after the event and the problems just piled up for me. Gone Girl just drained me. I felt completely braindead and listless by the end of it, and was left pondering if I'd have enjoyed this a lot more if a proven crime director like, say, ooh Ben Affleck had made it? Instead I just had to make do with a genuinely and admittedly excellent performance from him.
Once again, I come away totally convinced that David Fincher has made his film EXACTLY the way he wanted it to go, and for that I applaud him. It's just not the way I wanted it to go, Dave.