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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The Words Review

The Words (2012) directed/written by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. Starring Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons.

Synopsis: This tells the story of Rory Jansen (Cooper), a struggling unpublished author who finds an old manuscript in a bag his wife Dora (Saldana) buys him in Paris. He falls in love with it, and curious to know how the words feel flowing through him, he rewrites the story word for word on his computer. After his wife reads the story mistaking it for Roy’s own work, she urges him to show it to somebody. Trying to tell his wife the truth, he finally gives up and submits it to his boss. Months later he forgets all about the story until one day his boss calls him into his office saying it was a great story. Before he knows it he is the toast of the literary world, and has finally made something of himself. One day as he reads on a bench, he is accompanied by an old man (Irons). After a while, Irons confesses it was his book he lost all of those years ago, which results in some interesting repercussions.

This story has an interesting narrative structure. It begins with successful novelist Clay Hammond (Quaid) telling Jansen’s story at a recital, and as we progress the viewer also witnesses the telling of the old man’s story too. Thus, this is essentially a collection of three stories in one: Clay’s, Jansen’s and the old man’s. In a number of ways, this feels like a love letter to the novel with mentions of Hemingway and the writing process at various points. As a result, the story is filled with metafiction. It also seems to make a statement that passion and inspiration could be all that is needed the write the next great novel. This does, however, seem like it could be a bit naive, as discipline and working at the craft are just as important. At one point, we see that the old man writes the novel in two weeks due to this need to get it out.

I did like Rory as a character, and felt that this lie spiralled out of control very quickly although he started with the best of intentions. When the old man is telling him about his story, Rory is captivated – like that of a child listening to a great story from a parent. This could be making a statement on the importance of stories as a whole. This is also a morality tale, as Rory does pay the ultimate prize for plagiarising somebody else’s work – the inability to really live with himself.

I am glad Cooper agreed to do this movie; keeping true to the promise he made to the writer/directors of this film many years ago. Cooper puts in a good performance, but I was simply captivated by Jeremy Iron’s performance and he really did steal the show. As for Quaid and the rest of the cast, their performances were okay.

Overall, this film will not change anyone’s life but is a decent exploration into the novel, and just how easy it can be for a lie to spiral out of control.

By Robert Spence