Had an enervating experience Wednesday night when the Film Club sat over pizzas and discussed Gone Girl, David Fincher’s version of the popular Gillian Flynn novel.
It took one dissenting voice at a table of five to renew discussion that had been nothing but positive about the movie and the floodgates of its dam of goodwill began to creak.
The voice said Gone Girl the film was disappointing and would have been better if made by the French or one of the emerging thriller centres based in Scandinavia.
Those of us who had liked the movie then began to examine its flaws and what for me had been a superb plot began to look damp with the waters of incredulity.
Gone Girl the novel was praised by those at the table who had read it (hats off to Gaby for not complaining despite having the plot ruined by the film when she was only midway through the book). Considering Flynn also wrote the screenplay, the exposed flaws cannot be blamed on others for damaging the author’s intent.
What should have been a thriller set in the midst of a media-dominated society became somewhat laughable in the end, although Fincher did play it for some giggles to ease tension from some bloodshed and insanity.
Another part of discussion focused on ‘who won’ the battle between married couple Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) as they engage in a life-threatening game of superiority.
Gone Girl concentrates a lot on who is to blame, who is guilty and who ‘wins’. Shifting of blame to and from various characters is deftly handled. It is giving too much away to explain the plot but several individuals and aspects of society are on trial here.
For me, Amy’s parents who have cashed in on the mother’s authorship of fictional books based on their daughter’s life, are pivotal to the plot. It is they who have created this woman, seemingly perfect to the outside observer but a tad more complex in the real.
The television media, a monolith which has been unstoppable since the JFK assassination, is also guilty as hell in what happens in Gone Girl. It plays its part in demonising Nick after Amy disappears and also in his salvation when he belatedly learns the game, appealing directly to camera for his wife’s love and return if she is still alive.
Affleck, chosen for the part because Fincher knew the actor had endured his own dissection by media during his relationship with Jennifer Lopez, does a fine job as the husband who has many flaws but is able to rise from them when the death penalty beckons.
He is well supported by the female characters: Pike, not as luminous as she was in Barney’s Version (2010), but still effective; Carrie Coon (Nick’s twin sister Margo) and Kim Dickens (Det. Rhonda Bonney).