Gillian Flynn’s wildly popular novel Gone Girl is a perfect trashy beach read. It has spousal discord, criminal intrigue and chapter after chapter of twists. But there’s plenty of goodness in the book for discerning readers, too: dual narrators, self-aware tropes, and…chapter after chapter of twists. It’s dark and deviously fun, which makes the movie of the same name the perfect vehicle for director David Fincher’s brand of storytelling.
In the film, Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, a man who returns home on his anniversary to a missing wife and what appears to be a struggle. Through his testimony to the local police, we find out his side of the story, which is incomplete but innocent enough. Interspersed with that, though, is his wife Amy’s diary, which paints a different picture of him entirely: aloof, violent and potentially deadly.
Affleck, with his smarmy smile that masks a deep relatability, is fantastic in a role that requires the viewer to stick by him in one moment and completely mistrust him in the next. Must be all those years in the public eye. He hits the highs and lows of fury, desperation and loathsomeness incredibly well. As his deeply troubled wife, Rosamund Pike is fantastic. Her portrayal walks a fine line between calculated and boring, being careful to stay close to the former most of the time.
Fincher handles the dual narration aspect of the story admirably. The transitions between the action of Nick’s present and the flashbacks from Amy’s diary can be jarring when not in print, but only occasionally does it feel out of place. Meanwhile, the supporting cast ranges from ineffectual to outstanding, with most of the law enforcement in the first camp and Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris, playing Nick’s lawyer and Amy’s old boyfriend, respectively, in the second.
It’s hard to talk about the second half of Gone Girl without divulging too much of the plot. It’s safe to say that, if the way the novel treats its characters sat well with you when reading the book, you’ll be pleased. I found the pro- and antagonist hard to root for, especially as the book came to a close and you learned how everything played out, and that soured the reading experience for me. The adaptation is remarkably faithful, so I had the same problem with the film, but it was a pleasure to watch for such a large percentage of my 2+ hours in the theater that I found it easier to forgive. Your mileage may vary.
This won’t be the only review of Gone Girl from us, since at least one of the other co-bloggers has seen it.
I knew this was a book adaptation, that it was popular and that it was probably not going to be my cuppa going into it. Then I read a bit before I was invited to go (less than 30m before the showing) and saw “thriller” and knew “okay, this is going to probably really not appeal to me.” But with all of that, went away and here’s my take.
It immediately felt like a Lifetime movie. Maybe the greatest Lifetime movie of all time, but that’s what it felt like for better or worse. You knew there would be twists, but the improbability of the whole damn thing took leaps of faith that I wasn’t willing to muster.
All that being said, Roseamund Pike playing the protagonist “Amy” was chilling in this 2014 version of Fatal Attraction that seemed to fit the times a bit better than I was comfortable with. For starters, why be such a martyr to a relationship? And at what point do people who supposedly start off so “happy” and “perfect” and “not wanting to be those people,” end up with two different distinct narratives of what their life together is really like? Why would a woman who is used to speed and pace of New York City — much less wealth — agree voluntarily to give it all up to move to the hinterland with her yokel husband and do everything to appease him in this craptastic town?
I just don’t understand why I’m supposed to buy all of that. The film left me with more questions than I’m interested in having answered.
So the verdict to Gone Girl is this. If you want a snapshot of two really flawed people — one of whom goes to great lengths to make a man pay for what she perceives she’s done to him — go through the motions of love and loss together, then you’ll be fine to see this. But don’t believe the hype (much like they did with Fatal Attraction decades ago) that this is some kind of date movie, because you’ll be sorely disappointed for close to two hours and when you leave, there won’t be a whole lot to talk about, since the whole damn thing is as uncomfortable an exercise as you can get.
Now if you’ve read the book and want to see how faithful they are to it, have at it. I’m just not sure the appeal of any of it.
All of that being said, the acting was pretty good even if the relationships all seemed a bit strange and not especially well fleshed out. I think the insanity of Rosamund Pike’s depiction of Amy was the glue that held the whole thing together, whole Affleck did a great job of being the apathetic dumb jock homecoming king. Shout out also to Neil Patrick Harris who did quite a bit with not a lot of character development. That said, I don’t buy a dude who has a ton of money would have a giant house that he lives alone in AND a lakehouse far away that is fully stocked and never lived in. Sorry.
Lastly, Tyler Perry has made cameos in other movies (like the Star Trek reboot) and I thought he was most believable in this one versus anything else I’ve ever seen him in. Though him playing the role he was in a movie like this also seemed to fit based on the criticisms of his own films.
I care about the wrong things. Sorry if you’re a huge fan?
There are a lot of reasons that This Is Where I Leave You shouldn’t be good. To call the formula it’s based on tired - a family of impossibly attractive people with emotional baggage are thrown together under heavy circumstances and wind up working through their life problems together - would be an insult to insomniacs. To say that the drama in this dramedy is often overstated would be understating it. I’d tell you it’s predictable, but you probably know I was going to say that. No, the surprising thing about this film isn’t its plot or jokes. What’s surprising is how well it all works.
A significant contribution to the movie’s quality is its superb cast. Jason Bateman give perhaps his most well-rounded film performance to date. As Judd Altman, a man who had his wife cheat on him and his father die in the span of a week, Bateman is relatable. He’s warm and funny in one moment, sullen and angry in the next. This, and not the doofus man-children in The Switch and Identity Thief, is the natural evolution of Michael Bluth. Tina Fey is equally great as his sister, stuck in an imperfect marriage while being forced to face the love she pushed away (Timothy Olyphant as the brain-damaged neighbor).
Top to bottom, the cast is extraordinarily likable, and each is given a chance to shine. Jane Fonda is lively as the child psychologist mother, Corey Stoll and Kathryn Hahn are believable as a couple trying to conceive, and Adam Driver is hilarious as the screwup younger brother. Connie Britton, Ben Schwartz and Rose Byrne make great use of smaller roles. Even Dax Shepard, playing the macho radio host who steals Judd’s wife, ends up with a friendly portrayal.
In adapting his novel of the same name, screenwriter Jonathan Tropper leaves out depth. None of the characters’ issues are explored properly, nor are they solved satisfyingly. But, like the longtime friend who is kind of shallow but always means well, what winds up on screen is friendly enough that you want it to stick around.
Is this film great? No. It’s the kind of movie that your parents will love, and you’ll secretly really like. But, in the dead zone between summer blockbusters and awards season fodder, that kind of distraction is more than welcome.
From reading the synopsis, you get no indication of how bad Walk of Shame is really going to be. It doesn’t exactly sound interesting, but it didn’t sound terrible given the other options my visiting friend suggested when it was movie night. So I picked this one figuring it’d be an all right, fluff kind of watch.
What we were greeting with instead was a whole lot of awful. To be fair, the acting was fine. Most of the people in this film you’ll recognize as bit characters from movies you’ve seen before or ensemble actors from a TV show or two. All are professionals, all are funny enough and where they were failed wasn’t so much their acting, as much as it was the material they were given to work with.
Essentially the premise of this movie rests on the idea that in a world where there is Uber, smart phones with the power of computers and an ability to reach pretty much anyone with the swipe of a computer; that we have to suspend reality and believe that you can get stuck on the opposite end of your city late at night and that you’re so drunk that you abandon your friends, have a one-night stand, sneak out early after getting a voice mail that the job of your dreams just needs you to show up to work on time TWELVE HOURS LATER THAN THE MESSAGE YOU’VE JUST CHECKED. You find out your car in towed and so your next thought at that point is to hail a cab with no money to seek out your car, only to find yourself on the other end of town — with no money, no cell phone and oh you left your phone at the house of your one night stand.
Okay, so…if you can’t tell this was pretty much a terrible film and we didn’t finish it. It was painful halfway through, mostly because it was too hard to suspend reality to believe that all of the common sense stuff you’d do in-between wouldn’t have been preferable than having to rely on drug addicts to give you drugs that you might be able to sell to get $10, to being considered a prostitute because you’ve somehow lived in the city for years but didn’t ever get the memo that people would think that wearing a yellow dress on a seedy corner and going up to cars wouldn’t be SUSPICIOUS.
Did I mention the main character is supposed to be a TV anchor?
Here’s the last thing: The most offensive part of this movie is how you know that since the premise is that this is all a “big misunderstanding” that she’ll come out of it okay. This movie’s politics are completely turned on their head and yet, someone greenlit this piece of crap.
My walk of shame came returning it to the Redbox.