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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Following Review

Following (1998) is a neo noir psychological mystery directed/written by Christopher Nolan, and is his first ever feature film. This stars Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw and Lucy Russell.

Synopsis: A young writer (Jeremy Theobald) likes to follow people in order to gain material for his writing. The writer has a set of rules he adheres to including never following the same person twice. One day, he follows a smartly dressed man named Cobb (Alex Haw) into a café and sits nearby. Cobb approaches and asks why he is following him. It is revealed that Cobb is a burglar. Cobb invites the writer to accompany him on his burglaries, and from then on the writer becomes his apprentice.

After breaking into a woman’s flat (Lucy Russell), the writer goes against his own rules and begins to pursue a relationship with her. However, nothing is as it seems and this has some life altering consequences for the writer.

Having seen all of Nolan’s previous films, I was curious to check out his debut. I wanted to see how he made a film on such a low budget – 6000 US dollars[1]. I was definitely not disappointed by this film. Due to this being in the style of neo noir, this pertains with many of the sensibilities of this style. Nothing is as it seems on the surface, and the choice to shoot this in black and white clearly links with the style of noir.

The writing is good, and I was impressed by Nolan’s dialogue. I saw some nice parallels with his next film, Memento (2000), which I recommend watching too. This story jumps between different time frames, but is still fairly easy to follow.

Theobald is convincing as the protagonist despite only being credited in a short film before this. Haw is equally convincing as Cobb, and plays the charismatic burglar with ease. As a result, the viewer can easily see why the writer is taken with Cobb’s lifestyle.

For aspiring filmmakers, this is definitely an inspiring film to watch. This was filmed over the course of a year during weekends as all of the cast and crew had full time jobs. This shows good films can still be made on such a limited budget, and I recommend watching this.

By Robert Spence

 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Following