It would be ungracious to deny that David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” lengthy as it is, whizzes past, keeping us highly entertained throughout. I haven’t read the book on which it is based so I don’t know if the structural change that has apparently caused an uproar is for the better or not. Anyway, both book and screenplay are by the same author so she’s entitled to doing what she wants with either.
Viewers too are entitled to their choices and this one is simply out of patience with the same slick numbers churned out like clockwork by Hollywood. “Gone Girl,” already touted as Academy award material, is more of the same. Hunk Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) married five years and getting ready to sort of celebrate the not-entirely happy anniversary finds his half (unqualified as better or worse at this point) Amy has disappeared. Our times being what they are, everyone—meaning family, police, media, especially media—is thrown in a welter of suspicion, attacks, and a search that goes nowhere. Dunne is figuratively tarred and feathered as soon as unsavory facts about both marriage and his own commitment are aired. That’s for the first half of this extremely lengthy movie. Then, things are turned around on their head and it turns out that the villain is actually the wife, not the husband, and the chronology is reversed as we are given to see how she pulls off the stunt of framing him and hopefully seeing him executed for her own kidnapping and murder.
The media circus continues unabated, as though Hollywood had just discovered the piranha man-eating capabilities of the fourth estate, as though we didn’t know that it runs our lives and can turn them upside down. “Network,” “Face in the Crowd,” Louis Malle’s “Vie Privée,” etc. etc.?
A major and apparently undetected problem that hounds “Gone Girl,” currently in theaters, is the number of goofs or illogical segues that arrive fast and furious. When Amy wants to fake a pregnancy, she invites a pregnant neighbor she hardly knows, plies her with liquid refreshment, and next thing we know she’s holding a urine-filled small container, ready to ship to a lab. How on earth did she pull that trick? Simply asked the neighbor to oblige? Also this: After Amy disappears, the police goes over the couple’s home in the most thorough search imaginable. But then, several days later, Nick goes into his wife’s study to find a card addressed to him propped up on the computer. Huh? And still later, a crumpled letter from a lab turns out in a trash basket. Again–huh?
“Gone Girl” is fun while it lasts but I’d rather not be watching the same movie for the thousandth time. One last word about the acting. Ben Affleck is becoming quite good, maturing into more than competent acting. Rosamond Pike, on the other hand, is the perfect vapid, uninteresting pretty face filmdom is filled with these days. Not so long ago, the best actors, male or female, looked different from each other, they owned their original faces, their instantly recognizable voices, their facial expressions, their demeanor, their silences. As long as they were up on that screen, they owned us. Think Nicholson, de Niro, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett. No longer, alas. One can hardly tell the new faces apart, appropriately enough for the vehicles they come in.