Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Long gone: Is Fincher’s twisty adaptation an awards-season contender?

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | October 21st, 2014

WARNING: The following review reveals key plot information. Read only if you have seen “Gone Girl.”

Gillian Flynn, author of the bestselling novel “Gone Girl,” hit the Hollywood jackpot. She A) got to adapt her own screenplay without having to share any screen credit; B) had the fortune of finding David Fincher at the directorial helm; C) saw her characters brought to life by talent like Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike; D) all of the above. At its best, Flynn’s page-turner explores the domestic battle for control and the struggle for married partners to live up to and/or fulfill masculine and feminine expectations. At its worst, the book is a trashy, outlandish potboiler that embraces many of the clichés of the mystery thriller genre.

Flynn’s novel, which alternates between the voices of shitty husband Nick Dunne (Affleck) and psychotic wife Amy Elliott Dunne (Pike), recounts the variety of ways each spouse has been wronged by the other. When Amy disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, Nick is – obviously, perfectly, absolutely – the principal suspect. Flynn borrows the twist from Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Vertigo,” revealing on page 219 (of 415) that Amy is alive, with the words “I’m so much happier now that I’m dead.” Turns out Amy meticulously planned the ruse, staged the crime scene, and planted overwhelming evidence against her husband before lamming it. At this point some readers struggle with the placement of their allegiance.

Fincher’s movie retains Flynn’s shifting perspectives, but the faithful presentation of the events in the novel in the same order in which they occur on the page biases the viewer on behalf of Nick (I had hoped, like some readers, that Fincher might have taken the opportunity to mess around with the chronology). As a result, there is very little Pike can do to bring the inscrutable Amy to life as a thoroughly realized, recognizably human character. She’s as icy as Sharon Stone’s fellow writer Catherine Trammell and Kim Novak’s manipulative Madeleine Elster, just not as captivating. Even if Flynn and Fincher are suggesting we aren’t supposed to know Amy, the ploy doesn’t entirely pan out.

It’s not fair to compare Flynn’s dialogue to the wizardry of Aaron Sorkin, whose invented conversations in “The Social Network” make most of the chatter in “Gone Girl” sound like reheated leftovers from an old Lifetime movie. Fincher also had the good sense to limit the entire history of the origins of Facebook to two swiftly paced hours, while “Gone Girl” bobs along at a more leisurely 149 minutes. Fortunately, the late arrivals of Tyler Perry as a smooth defense attorney and Neil Patrick Harris as one of Amy’s old boyfriends inject a refreshing shot of winking “can you believe this?” mirth when it is most needed.

The most ardent defenders of “Gone Girl” will make claims about Fincher’s interest in exploring gender roles, the pressures brought to bear (on the upper class no less!) by the flaccid economy, and the ways in which the media distorts reality. My inclination is to focus instead on the things that really worked in the transfer of novel to movie: the ridiculous and over-the-top streaks of black comedy that threaten to align the film with the likes of lurid “erotic mystery thrillers” like “Fatal Attraction,” “Basic Instinct,” “Sliver,” “Color of Night,” and “Jade.” “Gone Girl” is better than most of those movies, but not as good as Fincher’s finest. 

Recently in:

Sophia Wilansky says she’s lucky she’s right handed. Since nearly losing her left arm from an exploding projectile on Backwater Bridge one year ago, cooking has become a tedious art. She can no longer be involved in circus…

The Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializes the trans individuals who have lost their lives due to violence this year. It is a day where we read their names and remember them—not how they died, but how they lived. This is also…

Thursday, November 16, 7-9pmUnglued, 408 Broadway N, FargoProof Artisan Distillers and Unglued present a craft party with four distinct projects and help from artists Ashley from AENDEE and Nicole Rae, not to mention a special…

“The experience of all ages has proved that the people constantly give away their liberties.” - John Adams“Man’s dishonesty with himself is his greatest enemy. When he makes a mistake, his memory admits, ‘I have done…

The thoughts and prayers of politicians will finally be answeredWe have had 307 mass shootings (four kills or more) so far in 2017, including the last one in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 mortals attending church, aged 18…

For the third week in a row, our panel of judges were out on the town with a thirst for cocktails and a focus on presentation, flavor, and creativity. This week’s adventures took us to a couple of hotspots in south Fargo, as the…

Colder weather, changing leaves, pumpkin spice and more are some of the few things that come to mind when many think of fall. But fall is about much more than sugary lattes and scarves, and you can fully indulge in fall flavors at…

I’m told that there is nothing quite like a live Green Jelly show, where anarchy and foam puppets reign. So perhaps it’s in the spirit of the upcoming show that my intended interview with the mastermind and vocalist behind the…

On Tuesday, November 14 at 7pm, the Fargo Theatre hosted a screening of “The Mission of Herman Stern,” a feature-length documentary chronicling the remarkable humanitarian efforts of the North Dakota businessman and founder, in…

Would you like to escape your stressful daily life with a relaxing arts event? Do you like to meet with old friends and make new ones? Or maybe you would like to start your Christmas and Holiday shopping early. FMVA has the event…

Ted Larson introduced me to Chris Jacobs one evening at Weld Hall in the late 1980s. I was in high school then, but Chris recognized fellow film fanatics, and we would chat a little bit each week. I learned quickly that he loved…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Believe it or not, “The Holidays” are upon us. If you’ve been to Target lately, and I know you have, you may have noticed that the Christmahanakwanzika stuff is already up (if you’re unsure of that term, Google it).In fact,…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Anthony Paul [Editor’s note: This piece contains language that some readers may find offensive]It has been all over social media and the news lately, how our president and commander-in-chief called and spoke with one of these…