Friday, October 3, 2014

Gone Girl [2014]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChicagoTribune (3 1/2 Stars) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (A-)  Fr. Dennis (4+ Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Gone Girl [2014] (directed by David Fincher, screenplay by Gillian Flynn [IMDb] based on her novel [GR] by the same name) is an appropriately R-rated film (for SOME measured, calibrated nudity and SOME measured, calibrated graphic violence) that SCREAMS a "Best Adapted Screen Play" Oscar nomination for Flynn.  And though it's still early in "Oscar Worthy" season, it's difficult for me to imagine ANY North American film still coming out this year to beat it for that award.   Other Oscar nomination possibilities would include (1) Fincher for Best Direction through this story of many twists and turns, (2) Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike for Best Actor and Actress Leading Roles as the film's formerly "on top of their world" lead couple Nick and Amy Dunne and (3) Carnie Coon for Best Actress in a Supporting Role as Nick's far more grounded (if also "underachieving") fraternal twin-sister Margo. 

The film begins with Nick, still strapping, good-looking 30-something Nick, coming into a bar, calling itself "The Bar", midday, that HE and HIS SISTER run in (say what?) "suburban Missouri" (??).  He sits down at the bar and asks "the bartender" (HIS SISTER again, mind you) for a Bourbon.  Why?  It's his and his wife's (Amy's) 5th wedding anniversary and it's clear that he's not looking forward to it.  It's clear, that as famous B.B. King "Mississsippi Blues" song goes "The Thrill is Gone..." THIS WHOLE SCENE, which remarkably telegraphs the central question explored in the film, is simultaneously PRETENTIOUS and BORING (RUN-OF-THE-MILL, AVERAGE, MUNDANE, FORGETTABLE (!)).

From voice-overs and flashbacks we're informed it wasn't always that way ...  Previously graced / lucky / even spoiled, we're told that Nick and Amy met in their mid to late-20s in New York as starting if already somewhat "limited" / "compromised" writers.  He was working at the time for a flashy (presumably) GQ style "Men's Magazine", she was writing "personality quiz" columns for another New York based commercial rag.  As the film unfolds, we come to realize that THIS was truly the high-point of both of their lives.  He was a strapping, good-looking, 20-something Midwesterner from "boring surburban Missouri" who had landed a job for a flashy GQ-style "Men's Magazine."  She, the daughter of doting, but "helicopter parents from Hell" also (kinda) made good.  Her parents, Rand and Marybeth Elliott (magnificently captured/played by and David Clennon and Lisa Banes), also writers, had MADE A FORTUNE off of a "Pippi Longstocking" [wikip] [GR] series of books called "Amazing Amy" BASED ON THEIR DAUGHTER'S LIFE (only BETTER than Amy's ACTUAL LIFE ... ;-) ... again "helicopter parents from HELL.").  So, for a while, she, writing those "personality test" columns for some New York magazine had (kinda) "succeeded" as well ...

... And then the Great Recession hit.  Soon both Nick and Amy, recently married (after a ridiculously pretentious/corny "proposal scene ...") ... lose their jobs.  Then Amy's parents turn out to not have been the best of financial managers either and come asking AMY for money -- MONEY THAT THEY MADE WRITING ABOUT HER, or ACTUALLY ABOUT A "BETTER THAN LIFE" RENDITION OF HER ... Amy as precocious girl scout explorer type, Amy as a "Doogie Houser" High School science prodigy, Amy as a Volleyball star, Amy as Homecoming Queen ... Amy as everything that _Amy_ NEVER WAS ABLE TO ACTUALLY ACHIEVE IN HER OWN LIFE -- that they had put in her "trust fund," basically all but emptying it.  Then when Nick and Amy find out that Nick's mother was diagnosed with (already) STAGE-4 Breast Cancer, they, jobless, decide to come back to Nick's hometown (in suburban Missouri) to (somehow) try to save her.  Of course she dies soon afterwards.  But by then, they had spent the remainder of (AMY's) parent-given (and parent-largely-taken-away) "nest egg" on buying a house and opening-up the above mentioned "bar" with the idiotic, utterly un-evocative name "The Bar."

And so, it's Nick and Amy's fifth anniversary ... "the thrill," long, long gone ... Nick comes back home, mid-afternoon (again, a stupidly odd, BORING time ...) to find "his wife missing" ... What the heck happened?   The cops get involved (led by small-suburban town PD detective Rhonda Boney played by Kim Dickens), then (inevitably) so does the tabloid TV press (led by a dead-on Nancy Grace like personality played by Missy Pyle)... and later even a celebrity ever-smiling criminal attorney (played in truly inspired fashion by Tyler Perry). 

It all becomes one heck of a twisting tale, all (IMHO) ultimately driven by the "great horror of our (narcissistic) time": What to do when one's EXPECTED (and EXPECTING...) TO BE EXCEPTIONAL and one starts to realize that one's probably GONNA END UP PRETTY DARN AVERAGE.


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