Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014): USA

Reviewed by China Rose, watched on download.

This is a breakout film for actress Rosamund Pike who is up for an Academy Award for her role as the Amazing Amy in Gone Girl. Even when Amy is, gone, out of the picture, she is very much present. This is also an excellent film for Ben Affleck, as Amy’s husband, Nick in that it show the audience that he still has what it takes to be great. First let me say that I came into this film at the end, right on the last plot twist. And it was riveting. It was so riveting that I had to immediately watch it again from the beginning.

So much of this story just sneaks up on you to grab you by the jugular and squeeze you to make you understand that it wants control, that it craves your attention. This kind of method acting is a juxtaposition to the role of Nick’s wife, Amy. Or rather who she becomes, but also most importantly who she was to her parents. Amy was to her parents a child they adored so much that they created a better version. A version they successfully published in story books about their daughter that overshadowed her real life experiences. Anything Amy could do, Amazing Amy could do better. Anything Amy failed at, Amazing Amy excelled at, and so it goes. Psychologically this made for some very compelling and chilling personal stuff that evolves in the plot-line.

Gone girl is definitely a Neo-Noir, erotic thriller. It holds its own and brings to mind a over higher octave in it’s victim turned vixen. Amy is a role that is reminiscent of female roles like Alex, played by Glen Close in Fatal Attraction, directed by Adrian Lyne (1987) and Catherine, played by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, directed by Paul Verhoeven (1992) and summed up, it gives a very good girl, a very bad edge. An edge so sharp that it can kill.

The Noir part is the dark shape of their real characters as we get to know them through the unfolding of some ordinary situations that take convoluted and calculated flips and turns. In this way Gone Girl, echoed the very high brow, Independent Art House film called Brick, directed by Rian Johnson (2005) which is also a story that revolves around a good/bad girl who goes missing. And in Gone… a smudged edge creeps into the picture perfect lives; an adoring husband and wife. It revolves it story time clock by going backwards before it shifts forward again.

The timing on the story form that to take us from now, to before, and then back to now -to get forward again, was well conceived and easy to follow. The edits were flawless and not to give way any shrill parts, as well timed and precise as the story voice is, I can only say that it’s a shocker in the mode of shack and awe. Even when as audience we feel submersed in the knowing we have revelations we don’t expect. Overall the look, feel, tone, wardrobe, set design and music filled the space but didn’t go too far or become distracting. This film was poetic, haunting and mesmerizing as it unfolds the life of the Amazing Amy. And although Amy is pegged as a superficial, lightweight her exploits give the film heft and considerable, context.

The cinematography was a weather vein that shifted with the winds of change to inform us of time and place but also to cradle the emotional content in the lens. Nothing short of sheer brilliance in its depth of field to move through the fog and chilling cold, to become bitterness between to lovers who married. The lens work was like the ice crystals that form on food in the freezer that you mean to devour, because you love-it, but when you forgot about it, frost bite ruins your chance. In this way the cinematographer brought metaphor to this film with his perception of light and dark and showed us the winter that gathered on a relationship over time to become a blizzard in their souls. A relationship that was so sexually hot and intense that it it had nowhere to go. Being set aside by its lovers, once it was left alone freezer burn set in.

What makes it a Noir thriller? Well quite plainly, the mystery as it unravels is exploitative of the modern media and yet revealing bit by bit and piece by piece. It combines what we have come to know and fear about the modern myth of love and the violence that runs deep when the love gets lost. Of course that makes the title, Gone Girl so fitting. So many notable moments by many of the actors were notable and brought a lightness and a rightness of being to this film.

The black humor helped lift the film away from its seedy self so that as viewers don’t get bogged down in the marshy swamp of Amy and Nick. The candor is kind of queer, like the Academy Award winning film Fargo, directed by Joel Cohen (1996) but with just enough wry sense of humor for a smirk and a giggle to add add zest and appeal for balance. But why I really love this film was the strong female lead, the actual feminine voice that had real emotional content and angst. Amy did not get lost and dissolve into another weepy, victim role.

In comparison the film Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (2014) Cheryl, the female role played by Resse Witherspoon (also up for an Academy Award) is unwatchable for its limp, terrible sketch of a self absorbed woman who refuses to grow up and acts like a brat. Get over yourself already you hear yourself saying when you try to watch it. The Wild shows it female persona you can tell its just another male version of a woman, vs. a real woman’s voice. Wild does nothing to further the concept of women in the modern myth of storytelling.

Amy in Gone Girl takes it to a new and stunning level and holds it at that line. If it were me I’d hand Rosamond Pike her Oscar right now!

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