The time is coming to suss out the best films of the year, and it looks like Gone Girl may well be gunning for the top slot. It is tremendously gratifying to have David Fincher continue a run of great movies. After the masterpiece that was Fight Club there was a period (Panic Room, Zodiac, Benjamin Button) where the director seemed to have lost his way. But he came roaring back with The Social Network, followed it with the magnificent American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and now we have Gone Girl.
David Fincher brings to mind Stanley Kubrick in the extraordinary beauty and perfection of his filming. Yet his movies have a more organic feel; they're more human and warmer — although that's an odd word to use, considering the darkness and chilliness of his material. Maybe I simply mean they have more passion and emotion.
Fincher also seems to have more respect for his screenwriters. He chooses them with care and collaborates with them as equals. In the case of Gone Girl this has paid tremendous dividends.
Gone Girl is based on a bestselling blockbuster of a novel by Gillian Flynn ('Gillian' is pronounced with a hard 'G'). When Flynn sold the novel to the movies — for a healthy fee, I trust — part of the deal was she'd get first chance at writing the script. Then David Fincher came on board and the suits effectively said to him, "Don't worry about the girl novelist. We'll bin her attempt and hire any screenwriter you want." (I'm inventing dialogue here!) But Fincher said to wait and see what she came up with...
And Gillian Flynn has knocked it out of the ball park, as has David Fincher. Gone Girl is a superb, shocking, dark, brutal and beautifully constructed thriller. A genuine classic. And if you haven't read the book you are in for some fun surprises.
Plaudits are due to an exemplary cast led by Ben Affleck, with Neil Patrick Harris in a great screwball role, Carrie Coone wonderful as Affleck's sister, Tyler Perry jovial and sleazy as a hotshot defence lawyer and Missi Pyle memorably reprising a bit she did as an annoyingly hustling TV host in The Mentalist. Also outstanding are Lola Kirke and Boyd Holbrook as a canny white trash couple.
The movie additionally features a fine performance by a ginger cat called Boris. (While researching Boris online I discovered a mini-version of the movie performed entirely by cats. Yes, I did. Really. Here it is.)
Also on board are Fincher's A-team of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on music and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth.
I only have one criticism of the film... Affleck's sister is called Margo, which is shortened to the nickname "Go."
Every time her name cropped up in dialogue I thought someone was being told to "go" somewhere and was momentarily baffled. The use of names in dialogue — especially odd names — is a potential minefield as far as audience confusions is concerned. Budding screenwriters make a note of that!
In the meantime, go and see Gone Girl.
(Image credits: All from Ace Show Biz.)