Adam’s Film Friday: A Review of Gone Girl

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What makes a story newsworthy? Is it that the people involved have an intriguing background, or is it that we can relate to their story? Is there more to the story than we as the public aren’t privy to? Would we view the story differently if we knew the whole truth? All of these questions are explored in the film Gone Girl, based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. The film takes its viewers on a roller coaster of emotions complete with an all-star cast and a top-grade director. What you’re left with is a stunned reaction and an overall feeling of WTF?

Closely following the book, Nick and Amy Dunne have been married for five years. Amy suddenly goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. Her husband Nick comes under suspicion and begins to act aloof and questionable when under the press’ microscope. During the investigation Nick begins to look guiltier than ever and everyone, including even those closest to him, begin thinking he is guilty despite his proclamation of innocence. Did Nick, the all-American perfect husband, kill his wife or are things not what they seem to be on the surface?

Gone Girl was one of the best page-to-screen adaptations I’ve ever seen. One factor that supported this was that the author of the book, Gillian Flynn, was responsible for writing the screenplay. The same emotions I felt while reading the book were felt throughout the film: the bone chilling scenes, the shock of the twists, and the utter disgust I felt towards certain characters were all still very much present throughout the film.  Much of the film’s dialogue was taken directly from the novel, which gave it such a genuine feeling of truth in the adaptation.

gg1From the first scene to the last shot, I was completely immersed in this world of mystery and double meanings, and could not physically wait for the next scene. I say physically because the emotions took me on an emotional roller coaster, and sometimes I needed a minute to think about what had happened and grasp it. It sometimes toys with your emotions more to see the actions of a film play out in front of your eyes rather than what you feel while reading the pages of a book. That is definitely true here. The film was under the proper care of director David Fincher, a director who meticulously crafts every scene no matter how important/anti-climactic. He is also known for having very dark lighting and dark cinematography and this works perfectly for the tone of this story. While at its core it’s a very dark story, there are small bits of humor sprinkled throughout. Every scene was exquisitely put together, from the shot choices to the lighting, sound, and score. The score is flawlessly crafted by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (the third collaboration between them and Fincher).

In my opinion, the film’s success depended entirely on the perfect casting of Amy. You needed an actress who you can relate to at face value, but know nothing about her beyond that. As a viewer, you know all about Amy’s superficial information: hair color, eye color, what clothes she wears, etc. Her personality, however, is a complete mystery. Rosamund Pike was the PERFECT choice for Amy. While she’s not a household name, she’s someone who dove head first into the complexity of the character and was ultimately successful in her portrayal. From the first time you hear her character speak, she was Amy.

gg2Ben Affleck’s acting has never been better. I never thought I would say this but Tyler Perry was really good in his role as Nick Dunne’s attorney Tanner Bolt. I was most hesitant about his casting because the character of Tanner is crucial to Nick’s story. Perry is known to play very over-the-top characters, so while I had some faith that Fincher wouldn’t ruin the film by miscasting the role, I still felt a level of skepticism. Perry’s delivery of one of his last lines had me laughing out loud and I realized how true the sentiment was behind the line. Kim Dickens as Detective Booney and Carrie Coon as Margo Dunne were excellent supporting players. They both have long careers ahead of them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their names are mentioned during Oscar buzz.

All in all, I think this was a perfect adaptation of the book. I loved every aspect of the film, and would have gladly watched a five-hour version, as I was so engrossed. For all the controversy surrounding the end of the film, I felt that it was a cherry on top of this sundae of a film. It will stick with the viewer for days, weeks, and even months. I would suggest it to anyone who loved the book, or anyone who was intrigued by the trailer or promotional material. I will say, that after viewing this, you will never look at tabloid headlines the same way again.

7 out of 5 Stars

Gone Girl (2014)
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
R, 149 Minutes

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Interested in a dark tale of murder and mystery?  If so, look no further than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and staring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara (yummy) as Lisbeth Salander. This is the second film to be adapted from The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, but the first to be done in English.  Larsson’s work has already been adapted to the screen in Swedish, his native language and the original publication language.

In a nutshell, the film follows a man’s mission to find out what has happened to his niece, who has been missing for 36 years and is feared to have been murdered. The man is Henrik Vanger, the patriarch and longtime CEO of The Vanger Corporation, a Swedish conglomerate that has a large presence in the country.  His niece, Harriet, went missing on a small island that many of the Vanger family members owned homes on. Due to jealousy, money, and evil that permeate the Vanger family, Henrik has very little doubt that Harriet’s killer is still alive, and he thinks a family member is to blame.  It is up to Mikael Blomkvist, who has been hired by Henrik to investigate the cold case, to reexamine the evidence and breathe new life into the disappearance that occurred so many years ago.  Unfortunately for Mikael, however, there are those who do not want the past dragged to the surface again, and this puts him in mortal danger.  Can he escape with his life?

Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy, upon which the film is based, has become one of the most popular series in the world of literature in quite some time. The Swedish film adaptations have even helped to launch the American career of Noomi Rapace (who I want to tap). But despite all this the most amazing thing about this series is that all the books were published after Stieg Larsson passed away.  He never even got the chance to see what a phenomenon his work has become!

Some were a little upset about the news of American remakes, especially since they happened so soon, but I’m happy about it. I am a fan of foreign film, but this remake is going to allow a broader audience to enjoy these intense stories. Very serious subject matter (both sexual and violent) is portrayed in the film, which may make audiences a little uneasy. However, in order to stay true to the original work it was something that needed to be done.

David Fincher was the perfect person to bring this story to life on the American big screen, and it may be one of his best works to date. I really love the look and feel of his films, and this is a great follow-up to The Social Network. Daniel Craig is good as usual, and he gives us a performance that isn’t exactly what we are used to from him. However on the other hand, the sexy Rooney Mara’s transformation into Lisbeth is what everyone is buzzing about! This is clearly a career role for her, in which she beat out many other Hollywood superstars for the role including Scarlett Johansson, who was the studio favorite. David Fincher fought for Rooney, who he just used in a minor role in The Social Network. All I have to say is she better be eternally grateful for his clout with the studio because he just made her a very in demand actress.

I will leave you with this: I highly suggest you check this film out if you are a fan of the books, want to see an entertaining piece of work, or want to know what all the fuss is about since you are too lazy to read. The film is very long, clocking in at almost 3 hours, so be aware and plan accordingly. Additionally, like I said earlier, the story deals with numerous MATURE story lines that may be hard for some people to see depicted on-screen, so consider yourselves warned.

PS…Word on the Street is both the films sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, will be filmed back to back, so be ready!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2010)
Columbia Pictures
R, 158 Minutes
 
Kim and Todd have reviewed all three books this year.  Their reviews are: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest