Thursday, October 30, 2014

From wedded bliss to wedded blitz, 'Gone Girl' thrills

(Oct. 12, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Filmmaker David Fincher does not shy away from dark or controversial stories and embraces his projects the way consummate storytellers do—by adding visual integrity and the characteristic edge to his movies.

His direction in “Gone Girl,” an adaptation of the novel by Gillian Flynn—also the film’s screenwriter—finely illustrates a smooth meshing of multiple elements into a cohesive whole.

Control and restraint are evident and there is also obvious collaboration, which makes the film—about a marriage gone terribly wrong—so absorbing and, in many ways, subversive.

Affecting at the right spots and possessing darkly comic twists and turns, “Gone Girl” is exactly that character-heavy piece that Fincher excels in, allowing him to play with a relationship that visits extreme territories—in this case, the well-guarded psyches of spouses who face the impending end of their union.

But it started oh-so-sweetly: Men’s magazine writer Nick (Ben Affleck) charms the bored and overachieving Amy (Rosamund Pike), their undeniable chemistry and mutual affection starting an intense bond that leads to wedded bliss—at first.

The partnership works, but after some time and real, tricky challenges, hidden glitches are revealed.
Part-satire, part-mystery thriller, it zeroes in on the couple’s relatable marital discord, which becomes exposed, as well, when Amy goes missing.

Not long after, Nick is suspected of being involved in her disappearance, as mounting speculation and incriminating situations point to his guilt.

Things, however, are not what they seem, especially in a Fincher film. We do get answers and they are incredibly twisted but plausible, making “Gone Girl” especially riveting and, at times, frustrating—because the viewer is uncertain of which person to root for, at least initially.

Affleck and Pike make their quandaries amusing, even frightening, with unabashed and dedicated portrayals. Pike, especially, is a revelation, radiant and stunning as the missing Amy.

Complementing the pair are Neil Patrick Harris (as Amy’s ex) and Carrie Coon (as Nick’s twin sister and confidante).

“Gone Girl” is a trickier puzzle than it looks; you will easily assume it is one of those rehashed thriller clich├ęs with amnesiacs as protagonists because it cleverly leads you to think so. But it is not, mercifully.

Let’s just say that this is not the first time Fincher played mind games. In any case, it offers a jacked-up, messed-up analysis of wedded blitz, an entertaining way of seeing marital weaknesses through Fincher’s inimitable “psychosis.”

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