Gone Girl Review

Gone Girl (2014) written by Gillian Flynn and directed by David Fincher. This is based on the novel of the same name also by Flynn.

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens.

Synopsis: After the mysterious disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) in the small town of North Carthage, Missouri, her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) and the police try and piece together what happened. As the story progresses, we discover the couple had an unhappy marriage which leads us to question Nick’s innocence in all of this. Did he murder his wife and make it look like she was kidnapped? Did one of her previous boyfriends have something to do with this? As Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and her partner Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) dig deeper, they begin to realise that nothing is as it seems.

Having just attended an advanced screening of this movie, my initial reaction is very favourable. This is a great film, and one of the best I have seen this year. Having heard the hype surrounding the book, I was expecting good things and I was not disappointed.

Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel into the screenplay for this movie, and this was a wise choice. Time and again I have heard the phrase “the movie wasn’t as good as the book,” therefore, it is refreshing to see the original writer adapt her own work. This allowed Flynn to be as faithful as she wanted to her original source material as well as adapt this for a cinematic audience which really paid off.

This is by no means a short movie, and its running time is roughly 2 hours 30 minutes. This allows for the mystery to slowly unravel at a nice pace. Flynn paints her characters as flawed which I admire due to this being true to life. Nick Dunne is not perfect and neither is his wife Amy as we are fed flashbacks told from Amy’s narrative perspective. The characterisation is great, and the important reveals effectively manipulate the viewer’s perception of the main characters numerous times. As a result, we are unsure what is true which makes the story more interesting.

I have been a fan of David Fincher for a while, and he stays true to his directorial style in his latest work. Apart from the Oscar nominated director working on a couple of House of Cards (2013) episodes, this is his first movie since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and an impressive one at that. This has the feel of a Fincher movie, and carries with it the “nothing is as it seems” characteristics of previous works.

What sets great movies out from average ones is their ramping up of events and deviating from formula. The first hour of this movie plays out like a typical missing person movie. The person goes missing, the police get involved, and the whole whodunit genre characteristics take over. However, this story evolves into so much more than the typical whodunit and provokes the viewer with a lot of questions.

Thematically, fame is at the heart of this story. Nick becomes demonised by the media after his wife’s disappearance whereas Amy is canonised. It also provokes us to question what really goes on behind closed doors. Are the seemingly happy people we see in the media really like this? Would you stay in an unhappy marriage to keep the peace?

The acting in this movie is impressive, and Rosamund Pike steals the show in her portrayal of Amy. Ben Affleck also does not disappoint as her co-star. The other supporting cast such as Neil Patrick Harris and Carrie Coon complement the story well.

To conclude, this is a very good movie and I highly advise paying the money to see this in the cinema. It is long, but this is needed to do the story the justice it deserves.

By Robert Spence

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Outlander – Season 1 Episode 1 – Sassenach – Review

Outlander (2014) is a historical multi genre television series based on the best-selling novels written by Diana Gabaldon. This was developed by Ronald D. Moore, and the opening episode was directed by John Dahl.

Starring John Heffernan, Nell Hudson, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan.

Synopsis: The story begins in 1945 with combat nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) 6 months after the conclusion of World War II. She peers into a shop window and receives a flashback of her time there. We witness her nursing a dying soldier, and the harsh realities of war. After hearing the war has finally come to an end, there is much celebration.

Back to reality, and Claire travels with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) to Inverness in Scotland to bridge the time they have spent apart since the war. He has accepted a teaching position at Oxford University which he is due to start two weeks from then. It is apparent their time apart has made an impact, and this is somewhat of a second honeymoon for them. They explore the sights, and become better acquainted.

After exploring the forest on her own for plants, Claire begins hearing strange buzzing noises. After inspecting further, they seems to be descending from a large standing stone. She edges closer and touches it.

Darkness, and Claire wakes up on the ground in what appears to be the same place; however, she has travelled back in time to 1743. After exploring, she sees red coat soldiers engaging in gunfire. They shoot in her direction causing her to run away. She stumbles across the double of her husband dressed as a red coat, and his name is Jonathan Randal (also played by Tobias Menzies). This is clearly an ancestor of Frank’s. He tries to rape her when suddenly she is rescued by a Highlander. After she screams for help, he knocks her out. She awakens and is taken to a safe house with other Highlanders. She gives a fake last name for safety, and meets a handsome injured Highlander named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). After helping him, she gradually begins to realise that she is no longer in the 20th century, and must find a way to return home.

After hearing rumours of these novels being adapted for years, it is good to finally see this story onscreen. As there is currently eight novels in this series, it is clear to see why this has been adapted for television.

I was impressed with the initial episode of this show. The majority of this episode establishes the protagonist Claire and her current life as well as some backstory. We see the trauma she has gone through during the war, but her resilience at getting on with her life.

It does seem like the target demographic of this show is aimed towards women due to the romantic elements along with a female protagonist; however, this would not deter me from watching the rest of the show and enjoying this story.

Caitriona Balfe is relatively new on the acting scene, and has recently come to prominence in movies such as Now You See me (2013) and Escape Plan (2013). She is very likeable, and there will not be a problem with an audience connecting with her. Her chemistry with Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser (the main love interest in this story) is good, and this initial spark in the opening episode paves way nicely for the rest of the show.

Male or female, if you like a good love story, then I would recommend this show. It will not be the next Game of Thrones but seems to be shaping up as a nice adaptation to the popular novels.

By Robert Spence