Saturday, October 25, 2014
Movie review: Gone Girl
Last weekend's date night for me and my Senegalese princess included a matinee showing of the new David Fincher flick, Gone Girl, featuring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Maty and I rarely agree on what constitutes a good movie, but this one held promise. The story --husband falls under suspicion while searching for missing wife --is the kind of thing that Maty loves. My attraction was due to the mostly favorable reviews of the film and the fact that Ben Affleck was at the top of the bill. Despite his appearances in some real barkers, I've always held a reservoir of respect for Ben Affleck based on his performance in Good Will Hunting. So, all in all, Gone Girl seemed like a fair bet to please both parties.
The film is based on the eponymous novel written by Gillian Flynn, which I have not read (nor, it must be said, will I ever). Flynn derived the plot, I assume, from high-profile crime cases from the recent past (Scott and Laci Petersen come to mind).
Mr. Affleck plays the part of one Nick Dunne, a middling successful bar owner in Missouri who, on his fifth wedding anniversary, discovers that his beautiful and rich wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. That very morning, he reports the fact to the police, who respond with amazing (and altogether unbelievable) alacrity. Full scale searches are launched, press conferences held, and web sites established, all to find a woman that has been missing for less than 48 hours. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) is assigned a lead role in the case and a couple of suspects from Amy's past emerge, including ex-boyfriend Desi Collins (Neil Patrick Harris). But as the investigation proceeds, suspicion begins to fall on Nick, who soon finds that his only allies are his sister Margot (Carrie Coon) and his high-profile celebrity lawyer, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry).
Where to start? With the acting, I suppose. In a phrase, it's sub-par. Whether it was because David Finch didn't know how to coax performances out of his stars, or because the actors themselves realized that the script was a losing effort is impossible to know. Ben Affleck came across as a half-witted meat-head rather than a criminal mastermind. Rosamund Pike's character was a one-dimensional harpy. Tyler Perry seemed like he was in a car commercial. And it may be unfair, but Neil Patrick Harris will always be Doogie Howser to me.
Worst of all was the story. The plot line writhes in agony. In order to stay with it, viewers must stretch credibility to its utmost limits. Police and FBI agents are stupid; doctors and medical personnel, incompetent; the general public, gullible and naive. (Well, that last one might not be all that far off the mark.) We must believe all these things for the story to work. As Maty later described it, Gone Girl is a flick that would be most at home on Lifetime Channel.
Three-quarters of the way through the movie, I was rolling my eyes and desperate for the scroll of closing credits. But Maty liked it, so that was enough to make me feel like I hadn't just wasted the previous 149 minutes of my life.