Friday, October 3

Movie Review: Gone Girl

“Gone Girl’’ opens with as much hype as only Hollywood can throw at a movie they hope will make a gazillion dollars but aren't sure it will. The flick is based on the book of the same name written by Gillian Flynn, and stars Ben Affleck as the shallow, philandering husband, Nick Dunne, who is top suspect in the disappearance of his pretty blond wife, Amy, portrayed brilliantly by Rosamund Pike. Many twists and turns, and what-the-hecks fill the screen from this bestselling novel.

Where to start with this movie?

Okay, first ~ you will probably hate the ending. And, I don't mean hate like you hate cooked spinach. I mean absolutely loathe the way you probably (or should have) hated the ending in Cast Away with Tom Hanks. Without giving it away in a spoiler, it is an unsatisfying ending that surpasses the long list of improbable straws and breaks the impossible-to-believe camel's back. It will leave you walking away coming up with your own ideas on how it should have ended. Never a good sign.

However, the cast is stellar. And ... I will be the first to admit at being more than a little pleasantly surprised at Affleck's performance. I have always thought of him as the "pretty" one of the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck duo, with Damon being the much more "talented" one, particularly in "The Talented Mr. Ripley."

Shame on me.

I am delighted to see that Affleck has become an actor worth watching for more than his square jaw and ruggedly handsome looks. He steps into the frustrated, but clueless, role well not realizing his every comment and move are tightening the legal noose around his neck. Giving in to his self-centered carnal needs, he even goes so far as to having a sleepover at his sister's house with his very young, sexy student, played by Emily Ratajkowski.

When a novelist's work is picked up and made into a film, celebrations are held ~ the big time has been reached. If the film flops, the author can always fall back on the fact the screenwriter misinterpreted their work. But if the screenplay is written by the original author, there is nowhere to hide; no one else to blame.

Which is where we are with this confused work. Is it a thriller? A satire? A statement piece of the horrors of the writers (both main characters and the mother) who cannot find work and fall into poverty after the collapse of the publishing world? Many writers are able to blend more than one genre successfully, this one doesn't quite reach that seamless goal, going in too many directions with too many half-done story lines.

The directing of David Fincher, know for works such as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," is tight and flows well. How much responsibility holds the director, however, in putting out a movie without correcting gaping holes in the plot? I don't know if he is allowed to ask for rewrites, but will assume as the top guy that he is allowed to, and should have with this one.

Let's talk about the elephant in the room ~ the bedroom to be exact. How necessary is it to see on a giant screen a man performing cunnilingus on a woman, or the frontal shot of a man after receiving pleasure from a woman? Or the close up of a woman's breasts several times? It adds zero to this particular plot, detracts from the flow of the movie actually, and, even though it is Affleck for the 'V' shot and Neil Patrick Harris' full view, it makes for uncomfortable moments with audience members.

The Plausibility Factor
We go to the movies for escape, to broaden our knowledge and to test our boundaries and give a lot of creative licensing to the writer in order to achieve those goals. When the first inaccuracy comes along, we shrug it off. When they continue, they add up and the filmgoer leaves the theater feeling rather cheated at the blatant mistakes.

If the Dunnes were wracked with money issues, and the trust fund was gouged by Amy's parents and the last of it was used to by The Bar, how could they afford to lease a mega mansion in a tiny, dried up town with no income except the barely-making it tavern? And the expensive furnishings, cars and lifestyle they have? Okay, we'll get past that for the sake of the story.

But ... every FBI agent in the country will roll their eyes at how utterly stupid the film makes these guys look. Standing around the "kidnapped" victim, hanging on her every word without questioning anything and believing every syllable that drops from her lips? Chastising the one local yokel cop (Kim Dickens), who dares to bring up an inconsistency ~ seriously? A multi millionaire is killed and left in a bloodbath, in his bed, by a nobody from a hick town in Missouri and no one checks her story?

Which brings us to the next implausible point.
How did Amy slash, perfectly connecting with, the jugular vein of her old/new boyfriend, portrayed by America's darling Neil Patrick Harris with the tip of a boxcutter? And why did Flynn feel a need to make him rather creepy also? How many psychotics does one story need? Nick tries to bring up the fact his wife was able to get a box cutter while allegedly tied up but no one else thinks of it (like the FBI or cops) and tells him to shut up.

And, glaringly ~ if every single inch of the lake house is hooked up to security cameras recording every single second, every single day, as NPH states clearly, there would be evidence contradicting Amy's story completely and she would have been fried, electrocuted or lethally injected without doubt ~ reasonable or otherwise.

Turning in a fabulous performance as the charming attorney Tanner Bolt is Tyler Perry. His bigger-than-life personality and polished schmoozing lit up the screen leaving you wanting more about this lawyer for those in the legal limelight. Perhaps a film about his exploits should be forthcoming. Every role's actor was selected carefully, no matter how small, including television journalists, performed by (Missi Pyle) and (Sela Ward) demonstrating the top-notch skill of Laray Mayfield, the casting director for this film.

If I were the 'stars' type reviewer, I would give it one star for writing, five for acting, rounding out to three overall. See it, but don't blow your budget on it. What could have been an intelligent thriller turned into an insult to those looking for one, but will score high in the fun film category. Likely it will do well at the box office and frustrate nit pickers like me.

Bottom Line: Gone Girl is entertaining, but implausible, with outstanding performances by the entire cast going too many directions to give full attention to any of the numerous story lines.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as the Travel & Leisure Adviser on FOX59 Morning News Show. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

No comments: