I want to buy David Fincher a drink. So this is about a woman who completely disappears off the map (Rosamund Pike). Her husband of five years (Ben Affleck) seems to be genuinely confused and concerned, but in this day and age of 24-hour news coverage, you know that every secret and speck of dirt is going to be scrutinized and presented to the public. This is based on a very popular book that I still have to pick up; it’s been universally praised, and if it reads anything like this twisty screenplay, I can totally see why. Now I do NOT want to be the one that spoils anything about this; so much of the enjoyment comes from you building your own case as the clues are presented to you, so I will steer clear of specifics. You do your own detective work to solve this mystery, and this is the type of material that director David Fincher is a master at handling. It is in the same vein of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac, but I would say he outdoes those movies, and I would even go so far to say that this is his fourth best film overall.
That’s how good of a filmmaker he is; his fourth best movie is a shoo-in to be in my top five for the year, if not top three. He’s just so good at crafting movies, and if you’re the kind of person that seeks out critically-acclaimed Oscar films, you don’t need to wait for the nominations to be released, you can just go ahead and buy your ticket. Even the simple camera shots are stellar and you can tell that a lot of care went into every single piece of this film. The editing does a great job at balancing the present media circus with the past diary entries, and you quickly find out that there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye; the more facts and details get presented, the more difficult it gets to remain objective, and when you get to the reveal, it is as effective as can be.
It’s almost like this is two movies for the price of one; when I watched this and got to that aforementioned reveal, my fiancé glanced at her phone, leaned over and whispered to me, “There’s still an hour left.” It really could have ended right there and it would have been completely satisfying. However, there’s much more story to tell, and being that I was so into it, I’m glad it continued on because I wanted to see more. While I personally appreciate the following, you may want to be aware of this going in: it gets overwhelming. The situation itself keeps snowballing, getting worse and worse, and it’s a similar sensation to watching Gabriel Byrne in Miller’s Crossing; the deck is stacked against this guy so much, you have no idea how it’s going to be possible for him to keep his head above water.
That said, it’s not all like that, and you do get well placed moments of humor to give you relief from all the tension. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is very effective (I don’t think they outdo the Social Network, though). It’s so tight that you don’t feel the length… well, for the most part; I started to feel it when it started entering the final epilogue chapter, but that may be because my bladder was about to burst, as I didn’t want to miss a moment of this. This is dark, brooding, and skillfully crafted, features biting commentary on today’s obsessive media coverage and succeeds at every turn.
Gone Girl (2014) *****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.