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


House of Cards Non Spoiler Review

After bingeing on the Netflix original television series House of Cards (2013) over the last couple of days, I’m doing a review on what to expect from this kind of show in case anybody is on the fence about it.

Firstly, House of Cards is an American political drama with 13 episodes per series. This was originally a novel written by Michael Dobbs and then adapted to a British mini series. Beau Willimon developed this to its current form, and Kevin Spacey as well as David Fincher are producers.

The main cast consist of Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Michael Gill and Corey Stoll.

Synopsis: This tells the story of Frank Underwood (Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th congressional district and House majority whip who, after being passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, initiates an elaborate plan to get himself into a position of power. Frank lives with his wife Claire (Wright), who is involved with charity work. However, her motives are much of the same as Frank’s.

There are numerous secondary characters (from the White House to journalists) in the show. Kate Mara for instance plays journalist Zoe Barnes. Her and Frank make a secret agreement to help each other in various ways. Corey Stoll plays US Representative Peter Russo, a troubled alcoholic Democrat who is engaging in a secret relationship with Christina Gallagher (Kristen Connolly), a congressional staffer. The President of the U.S. Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) is also a prevalent figure in the series. Among these characters there are many more.

Frank is very interesting because despite his ruthless and cut throat nature, he makes for an intriguing character. Frank lies, cheats, manipulates and breaks all of the rules to get ahead. As a result, this hugely impacts on the rest of the characters. Frank often addresses the viewer with his thoughts and feelings which adds another dimension to the show. Whether it be him hatching a plan, or even delivering a sly look, this is very effective.

Spacey is a fantastic actor and has played an array of iconic characters in his career. His portrayal of Frank Underwood is certainly one of them. I couldn’t picture anybody else playing him and he truly makes the role his own. The same can be said about Wright, who is captivating and endearing as Claire. As a result, Wright won the Best Actress Golden Globe this year.

Initially I was sceptical about the show because I am not a fan of politics; however, House of Cards is so much more than that and I recommend this to anybody. It’s recent Emmy wins is a testament to how good the show is.

By Robert Spence