Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

Discuss films of the 21st century including current cinema, current filmmakers, and film festivals.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#51 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:20 am

No, I realize that. The lack of character development for the Nick character and the focus on the lurid made that satire feel far in the background until it was right up front, and for me it felt like a whimper instead of a bang when Fincher finally trotted it out. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what the film's trying to do, I just don't think the tonal shift worked and I don't think it succeeds entirely. It's a pretty good film on the whole, just far from a great one for me.

User avatar
warren oates
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:16 pm

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#52 Post by warren oates » Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:40 pm

I feel like I've just seen the all-time greatest episode of Without a Trace, which, in case I'm not being clear, isn't exactly a compliment.
SpoilerShow
krnash wrote:...this isn't a crime thriller, it's a satire on the American marriage. It's an exaggeration of the idea many people live their life by, which is to stick through anything to avoid a separation, which is sometimes seen as the ultimate possible disgrace...and which often takes more work and self analysis than just sticking together, believing that eventually two people have to click happily.
I disagree. There's a strong satirical current in the work (and even then it's almost more interested in the media) but there's no way in which this film isn't also very much trying to be a thriller. And I have no clue what you mean by this idea that "to stick through anything to avoid a separation" in any way reflects contemporary American attitudes about the sanctity of marriage. It really sounds like you're talking about 50-100 years ago -- unless the main characters were conservative evangelicals, which they certainly aren't.

The satire was best when the net was cast wider and it skewered the likes of Nancy Grace, who is already so over the top in real life that Gone Girl's version was more or less playing her straight. It was less funny and less effective when it mocked the willingness of the authorities to believe any line of bullshit a pretty young white woman was feeding them, regardless of how poorly it fit the facts of their case. Which brings me to the biggest problem with Gone Girl.

I agree with mfunk that Nick's final turn of grudging acceptance only plays as metaphor. It's simply not earned dramatically or justified psychologically. But I'd go further and say that Amy's not really a fully formed character either, so much as a reverse engineered plot device. This is one of those thrillers that's just too quick to sacrifice credible human psychology and dramatic motivation on the altar of one more twist than the audience sees coming (and this here audience saw the major one a mile away).

And there's a huge crucial difference between a plot twist and a character cheat, one that Gone Girl seems to be confusing pretty disastrously. The more outrageous any given character's choice, the more explanation is owed the audience. In the right circumstances, most people could do things they normally wouldn't do. But that's not what I'm talking about. The sort of character cheats Gone Girl relies on are a dishonest attempt to move the story forward in a surprising new direction by manipulating one of the central characters into suddenly acting in such a way that s/he never would (because, in this case, there are no right circumstances) or that retroactively negates the character we've come to know up to that moment. I'm thinking particularly of some more recent failed thrillers I've discussed in other threads, such as Trance and Stranger by the Lake, both of which suffer from this confusion and, in my estimation, stumble irrecoverably by forcing their lead characters to want and do things they wouldn't just for the sake of a twistier narrative. To be sure, Gone Girl has plenty of gaping plot holes, but its bigger problem are the character holes.

There is no squaring the Amy who frames her ex for rape, cuts Desi's throat and explains that she's come home to Nick because she's in love with his fake TV image (the one she knows he was faking more for himself than for her even)... There's no squaring that Amy with the one who wanted to date and then marry Nick in the first place, the one who was wounded by his infidelity, the one who moved to the middle of nowhere with him, for him (even if she resented the way that he'd seemed to decide they were going to do it without discussing it with her). If she's the sort of malignant narcissist who only cares about images, the cold blooded psychopath who'd scheme and kill to get the perfect looking life, why the hell did she ever want to talk about books with Nick (or even bang him behind the bookshelves?)? Couldn't she have manipulated her way into a loveless marriage with a well-read Wall Street tycoon (or Desi)? Or, assuming that the psycho/narcissist Amy would ever willingly spend more than a few minutes with Nick (which I still wouldn't buy), couldn't she have figured out an easier way to end things with him earlier, once she'd realized she made a mistake? Why not just frame him for rape too? Or do, I don't know, any one of a thousand other less complicated -- though, admittedly, less story worthy/fun to watch -- things.

In his Film Comment interview, Fincher at one point wonders aloud if it all doesn't sort of boil down thematically to "men are stupid, women are nuts." But his interviewer Amy Taubin won't let him off the hook. For her, by the end, Gone Girl is ultimately and only a film about one truly crazy woman.

There are still lots of details worth discussing. Like Amy's almost eating disorder, how when she's on the lam -- especially when she thinks she still might kill herself -- she's free to binge on all the terrible junkfood that perfect wife size 2 Amy would never have allowed herself. Hell, at the lakehouse she'll even horn in on other people's ice cream! As soon as she returns to her house at the end, though, we don't ever see her eat again -- she's making crepes but they all appear to be for her bulked-up hubby.

There's an overriding aspect of bourgeois wish fulfillment/fantasy in the construction of both leads, but in particular in certain traits of Amy's character, that seems to go all the way back to the book and feels almost cynically tailored for an imagined target audience of hardcore book clubbers. Amy's beautiful and smart, and a writer -- but one who doesn't really have to write. She sure seems pretty darn perfect yet doesn't feel that way on the inside (awww), because of her neglectful parents who nevertheless got rich turning her life into a series of adorable children's books. She's almost universally adored, even by men she's ignored for years. She gets to have dangerous quickies in the back of the sort of bookstore that doesn't actually exist anywhere in Manhattan anymore (psst, don't let the book club ladies know!).

And there's something to the fact that, of all the drama she causes, the worst moment of Amy's life -- at least as the film plays it -- seems to be when she finds herself suddenly and unexpectedly broke, surely also the worst nightmare of many of Flynn's readers. Which is also why, I think, her narrative so smartly (or cynically) hints/teases at the couple's longer term money issues without actually making either one of them suffer serious consequences. (Hey, they may own a bar, but it's not really all that profitable and they've been "reduced" to merely renting their McMansion).

Amy also gets to be both the faithful jilted wife and the psycho revenger, simultaneously playing the most sympathetic and most powerful roles in the sort of standard upscale 90s thriller this one almost seems to be referencing (Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct).

It's weird, but I feel like Fincher used to be more interested in character than he has been lately. The functional, shit-starting, game-playing, twist-making, motives-be-damned-just-add-one-more kind of antihero/antagonist that Amy is isn't all that far away from House of Cards' Frank Underwood (Wait, why does he want that thing again? Oh, yeah, because "power."). It's weird but I feel like Fincher cared more about his characters in less superficially realistic films like Fight Club and The Game. And that he even managed to find more to work with in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Anyway, a question for those who've read the book: At one point Margo mentions Amy's reputation for starting drama. But I feel like we see little evidence of what that actually means for her relationship with Nick prior to the main events of the film. What sorts of things would Margo have seen or known Amy to have done to Nick that would make her say this?

A few more assorted plot questions:

--Jokey hospital non-explanation "explanation" scene aside, even assuming for a second like the movie tells us the FBI drops the probe of her story (why would they?), aren't there dozens of other players out there who'd very likely go about unraveling this eventually? For starters, say, the media itself (who want to see drama period, an endless parade of details from their favorite obsessions, even more than they are inclined to accept/believe everything a pretty white woman says), citizen journalists & bloggers (wouldn't there be a whole subreddit just about what happened at the Collings lakehouse?), Desi Collings' own people (surely his family will want to know why he died? if not also any of all of his business partners? what motivation do any of them have to accept Amy's story); Tanner Bolt's ex-Secret Service agents, who surely must have detective skills comparable to Nick's (he found his way to Collings' house).

--The woodshed: So let me get this straight, according to Amy's frame-up fiction Nick supposedly bought himself all those man cave items on a secret credit card he knew they couldn't afford to pay off but then didn't unbox let alone use them because why exactly? And how does her discovering this and making it part of her anniversary game play out if the cops find it all first, as they were supposed to, with her Punch and Judy dolls on top?

--Computers. None of the detectives seem to do anything meaningfully forensic with anybody's computers. I find it hard to believe that Amy would have managed to mask every single move she made on-line. She'd have needed computers to do just about everything that was part of her plan. And deleting one's search history at home (which isn't always really deleting it) is completely different from hiding the logs of that activity that might remain with an ISP.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#53 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:47 pm

Great write-up, Warren, a really entertaining post that made a ton of good points.

User avatar
The Narrator Returns
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:35 pm

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#54 Post by The Narrator Returns » Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:00 pm

I think mfunk might want my head for saying this, but this felt like the movie Girl With the Dragon Tattoo almost was before it didn't quite cross the finish line. I didn't have the problems some did with the epilogue, but I can't really defend it beyond "It worked for me". Put that on the poster, the marketing geniuses at Twentieth Century Fox.

Speaking of "marketing genius", did anyone else notice the appearance of Singani 63, the Steven Soderbergh-produced wine brand, as Nick's drink of choice while Boney grills him about the possibly staged crime scene? I almost cheered in the theater when I saw it, because of course I did.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#55 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:13 pm

I have no idea why I would want your head for that. Full disclosure: I gave this film 3.5 stars when I logged it on Letterboxd and it's a great party until the ending drops a turd in the punch bowl.

User avatar
Roger Ryan
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#56 Post by Roger Ryan » Sun Oct 05, 2014 5:26 pm

I can't disagree with the plot holes or questionable character motivation, but the impression I got was...
SpoilerShow
...Amy's announcement that she's pregnant is what convinces Nick he needs to try and keep the marriage together if only to protect the child from his psychopathic wife. This might come a little late in the proceedings, but the film clearly wants the final kiss-off to be that this ugliness/deceit will extend to the next generation.

bluelph24
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:10 pm

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#57 Post by bluelph24 » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:38 am

warren oates wrote:I feel like I've just seen the all-time greatest episode of Without a Trace, which, in case I'm not being clear, isn't exactly a compliment.
SpoilerShow
krnash wrote:...
There is no squaring the Amy who frames her ex for rape, cuts Desi's throat and explains that she's come home to Nick because she's in love with his fake TV image (the one she knows he was faking more for himself than for her even)... There's no squaring that Amy with the one who wanted to date and then marry Nick in the first place, the one who was wounded by his infidelity, the one who moved to the middle of nowhere with him, for him (even if she resented the way that he'd seemed to decide they were going to do it without discussing it with her). If she's the sort of malignant narcissist who only cares about images, the cold blooded psychopath who'd scheme and kill to get the perfect looking life, why the hell did she ever want to talk about books with Nick (or even bang him behind the bookshelves?)? Couldn't she have manipulated her way into a loveless marriage with a well-read Wall Street tycoon (or Desi)? Or, assuming that the psycho/narcissist Amy would ever willingly spend more than a few minutes with Nick (which I still wouldn't buy), couldn't she have figured out an easier way to end things with him earlier, once she'd realized she made a mistake? Why not just frame him for rape too? Or do, I don't know, any one of a thousand other less complicated -- though, admittedly, less story worthy/fun to watch -- things.
...
SpoilerShow
While this obviously doesn't square away all of the issues that you mentioned with the film, I do think that it bears reminding that the only Amy we see is Diary Amy. We know that she writes the pre-escape (for lack of a better word) as a way to frame Nick. She says that she includes the truth from the Good Old Days, but how much of that we can trust is up for grabs.

She's an unreliable narrator telling her own story and trying to make the situation look a certain way. Frankly, we can't even be sure that Nick was abusive. Truly, the only thing that we know about Nick and Amy's relationship before she leaves is that it was going down and that he was cheating on her. Everything else that we get is suspect since it comes from Amy.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#58 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:02 pm

SpoilerShow
I'm not sure the claim about this being a satire on marriage is very apt, there's some minor cynical elements there, but the film doesn't seem to be satirizing marriage. There is a critique in there in terms of the role marriage plays for society, and the performative aspects of marriage, but that is tied up in the larger themes of the film that engage in the performative aspects of identity and personality.

The film seems far more concerned with inverting the typical domestic violence scenario, in this case the battered husband stays with his abusive wife for material reasons and out of fear of the abuser. My take on the ending was that by the end Nick had been neatly trapped and outmaneuvered by Amy, he can't leave without fearing that she'll hunt him down and kill him and if he stays he's constantly at risk of being killed (with the expectation that she'll get away with it as easily as she did with the murder of Neil Patrick Harris, by engineering an elaborate frame that justifies her behavior). That also plays into the inversion of domestic violence, which has a long history of being ignored or dismissed by the system, the male abusers are always 'free-to-go' with no charges and free to return to those they were abusing to exact more damage. An orgy of evidence wouldn't matter because you can always sweep it away under the justification that the perpetrator was 'such a nice guy.' Amy getting away with everything and keeping Affleck under her thumb is very explicitly conjuring that context for me.
Last edited by movielocke on Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
warren oates
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:16 pm

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#59 Post by warren oates » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:37 pm

I agree with your points bluelph24. But, like you say, the idea of unreliable narration only takes one so far in smoothing out some of the inconsistencies. And I do like the way movielocke describes the ending above. But it's only interesting to me on the level of ideas. It plays thematically, but it's just not there dramatically. And I'm interested in that other parallel film movielocke nearly posits where
SpoilerShow
Amy secretly abuses Nick physically and psychologically for years, he tries to escape but only ends up looking like the abuser instead until he ultimately slinks back inside their house at the end, completely broken.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#60 Post by movielocke » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:50 pm

I think what I most enjoyed about the film was the sense that it was unexpectedly functioning as a
SpoilerShow
serial killer origin story. When Amy kills NPH and then flips over his body and continues fucking him after he's bled out all over her and died she's as ecstatic as we ever see her. That makes me think that Amy has been going through a progression, the guy she frames for rape, Nick being framed for murder, and then finally she herself commits a murder rape of her own. Like Dexter she's going to need a fix again sometime in the future. She is certainly an anti-hero in a way, and the ending ominously suggests that Nick will definitely be the next victim when she feels the itch--the need--that was only scratched by killing. Se7en gave us a serial killer that was unknowable, with no way of understanding how he got that way (other than that he was "crazy,"), Gone Girl goes the opposite direction and gives us the beginnings of serial killer who we can know how they got there each step of the way.

And if not full serial killer, there's a plausible streak to take it to a softer S&M side. the film seems to suggests Amy gets off on structure and obedience and being in control and inflicting pain within boundaries she defines and control. they fuck in the bookstore when Nick follows her clues, doing exactly what she wants. she fucks NPH only after she has mastered the camera angles (the bonds) of her confinement. In a way, I wonder if being "trapped" by NPH was something of a turn on for her?

User avatar
Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#61 Post by Cold Bishop » Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:21 am

Alright, so, on first impressions, I must say that I love this film. I think that "first impression" is a necessary disclaimer: this is a film where I imagine that opinion can change wildly, in either direction, on subsequent viewings. The most obvious comparison point is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another runaway potboiler success adapted into film. While Fincher was able to infuse that film with his style, he wasn't able to slay the beast. The conventions of the mystery and procedural ultimately govern that narrative with an iron fist. Here – and if I'm being unfair to the source novel, I apologize – Fincher is able to find the fissures within the narrative, exploring and inhabiting them. Dragon Tattoo strikes me as all surface, repeat viewings there only to coldly admire the style on display. Gone Girl however seems to scream out for repeat viewing, so as to wrestle with its potentially distasteful and inscrutable conclusions.

In fact, in it's slow methodical pacing and stylistic restraint, the film feels like Fincher's successor to Zodiac. Interestingly enough, both films are not only potboilers, but uber-potboilers, approaching their investigations with an unusual amount of detail and patience. In doing so, they managed to go past pulp, and find something richer therein. Appropriately enough, both films contain an atmosphere of unknowability. While I was able to guess exactly how the film would end – not speaking about plot, but the very shot it would use – it still gave me goosebumps. The best mysteries are those which fine deeper philosophical mysteries in their concrete solution. Gone Girl, in its final moments, seems to fit the bill.

I've seen much bellyaching be done about this film, particularly it's mid-film plot twist, and it's choice of ending. The former is inarguably outrageous, and opens up the film to all sorts of readings of sexist paranoia. Yet what I admire is that, instead of ramping up the film to Adrian Lyne-Joe Ezsterhas levels of pulp luridness, as it would seem naturally inclined, Fincher instead uses it as the juncture by which it passes beyond potboiler, and into more complex avenues, first as a satire then as a character study.

Above all, the narrative structure of the film strikes me as triumvirate. The opening stretch is the most investigative, exploring the character of Nick in increasingly damning circumstances. The second section, however, turns it's gaze back on Amy in rather shocking fashion… and by introducing a parallel narrative, manages to focus its study of media fabrication and distortion. It is the third section, where these two parallel lines reunite, that has been the source of most of the consternation on the forum. Yet, the section is the one I find the most striking – yes, and troubling – but the one that will make this a great film, if indeed it holds up as one. I won't attempt to mount a full defense here – nor do I think I can after one viewing – but I will say this:

For all its concern with celebrity and marriage, what sticks to me most about the film is this theme: the people we present ourselves as, the people we are behind closed doors, and the gap the lies between. What is most interesting about the film is that it doesn't simply treat this gap as a question of façades, the former lying about the latter. No; the film explores the notion that this facade exists in various forms, from the public to our intimates and even ourselves. And perhaps it works the other way around, that the person we present ourselves as is the person we strive to be, and that perhaps is our real self. It's not the triumph of a lie over the truth. It's ultimately the portrait of two people: one who has accepted who they are, one who gradually comes to it... and the way they play up and draw on outward appearances in this process.
SpoilerShow
I proffer that Nick returns because he truly wants to, that his justification of blackmail and terror slowly becomes another facade, and that, as Amy suggests, he loves the man she once brought out of him... and the man her return has made him to the outside world. Ultimately isn't her offer to allow him to make that facade the actual, not just as far as the world is concerned, but also as far as they see and treat themselves? I think one of the most telling moments of the film is after his big interview. The celebratory nature afterwards quickly goes from glee in outmaneuvering Amy, to glee in winning over the public. In fact, I sense much unremarked pettiness and point-scoring as Nick's media campaign starts to turn into a proxy marital war, domestic bickering turned cat-and-mouse lethal. "Just let her show her face now."
Also: for all the attention the film spends on the "unknowability" of Amy, it seems that Nick is the most elusive character of the film. The clearest moments of character building are those very flashbacks which are exposed to be completely unreliable. There's a major dilemma of class and power dynamics within their marriage that the film mostly eludes over. And I think the ending is confounding for many because it's supposed to be. If the film is reversing the usual structure of an "abusive relationship", I also believe it expects us to see the ridiculousness there and look deeper, beyond the facades character's present or even themselves believe. All I know is that before the disappearance, Nick seems just as culpable as Amy in their marriage troubles... and in final estimate, they perhaps deserve each other.

User avatar
jindianajonz
Jindiana Jonz Abrams
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:11 pm

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#62 Post by jindianajonz » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:56 am

Very interesting thoughts, Cold Bishop. Though if the ending
SpoilerShow
is intended to be an inverted absuive relationship, and Nick returns because he loves the person that Amy/this relationship has brings out of him,
well... that's certainly uncomfortable.

User avatar
A man stayed-put
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:21 am

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#63 Post by A man stayed-put » Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:21 am

Really great write-up Cold Bishop.

I also read the last section of the film as
SpoilerShow
Nick staying because he want's to, rather than feeling he has to. I saw this as the films darkly comic core. He actually falls in love again with the returning Amy- she's happy and satisfied, she's not giving him shit, she's going to have a baby with him, their money problems have gone and most importantly, they know and understand each other now in a way they never did before.
I've only seen the film once so am not 100% this reading will hold up, but it was certainly what both me and my wife felt after that initial viewing. Although, what this tells me about my marriage, I'm not sure I want to consider too closely.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#64 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:33 am

Ugh, this movie made me feel ill. I'm very much with Warren on this one, specifically in his point that
SpoilerShow
The big character twist for Rosamund Pike feels fake because the character she's revealed to be is literally a person who does not exist, a character type that has no analogue in reality. The thing is, she is a character that abusers pretend exist all the time, the mysterious woman whom they totally never touched but mysteriously gets beaten anyway, the rape victim where it was totally consensual and she's just a lying sociopath. It is, to say the least, extremely upsetting to have this phantom given form- like, as though this movie was written as self justification by a gestalt of a number of serial abusers.

I get the satirical elements, that it's as much about the media as it is about our characters, and the way it inverts abusive relationships has a neat symmetry to it, but in a world in which people pretend that false rape accusations happen hundreds of times more often than they do, it's difficult to sit through False Rape Accusation: the Movie.

User avatar
ianthemovie
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:51 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#65 Post by ianthemovie » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:10 am

SpoilerShow
Great points, Warren and matrix. I enjoyed the slickness of the filmmaking here (that murder scene made me gasp out loud) but I found very little depth to these characters or the plot. Any potential complexity or ambiguity to Amy's character in the first half of the movie (when we're led to see her as a woman whose actual self is in conflict with her perfect trophy-wife persona) is eventually negated by her "craziness," so that in the end "because she's crazy" becomes a convenient way of explaining all of her nonsensical behavior. As such, I found little reason to care about anything that she did in the film, because her actions were revealed to be the whims of a "crazy" person.

I did think the film was quietly funny throughout--but as a satire its targets are cheap ones (the 24-hour-news media is hysterical and phony! Married couples put on false faces for the public! etc.) I kept getting the sense that Gillian Flynn thought these were really deep and profound insights when in fact they're pretty facile. Under other circumstances they might have been better deployed but the "character holes" (as Warren puts it) shred the film of any nuance it might otherwise have had.

In response to matrix's point, I also found the rape- and abuse-accusation stuff to be pretty cringe-worthy, especially the scene between Affleck and the ex-boyfriend. While other scenes encourage us to sympathize with Amy as a woman who has been treated like a sexual object by her husband (even if she admits to us that he never actually hit her), this sympathy gets muddied by the revelation that she has a history of destroying the lives of her romantic partners in ways that are disproportionate to their "crimes." (I still don't understand why, even as unhappy as she was in that marriage to Affleck, she couldn't have just, I dunno, filed for a divorce or walked out on him like any sane person would have done. She needed to frame him for murder and get him executed because he was a run-of-the-mill cheating asshole? And yet her vitriolic, murderous hatred for him is not so strong that it can be neatly reversed by his behavior during a TV interview?) It's true that the tables turn at the end, and Affleck ends up the one trapped in an "abusive" relationship, but it's hard to say whether this effectively creates sympathy for women who are actually in such situations or whether it simply reinscribes Amy as the castrating psycho-bitch. I'm thinking more the latter.

It's true that in the end they're both horrible and they "deserve" each other, but by that point everything has been so canceled-out that there are no stakes left. I no longer cared whether this relatively-sane-but-obnoxious person was either happily or unhappily married to this sociopathic-and-equally-obnoxious person, or whether anyone else outside of their marriage knew just how fucked-up they really were.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#66 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:46 pm

"When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat." - George Carlin

Saw this today. That quote ran through my head quite a few times. It feels like it could be Fincher's funniest work, mainly the satirical bent. Seen through his eyes, it definitely feels like you're dead center in the front row. I felt a particular sense of antipathy towards middle-class America, in it's portrayal of the community surrounding and supporting Nick, then literally turning into a lynch mob. It would be very easy to just dismiss it as Hollywood navel-gazing, but damn if a lot of that wasn't true either.
SpoilerShow
Roger Ryan wrote:I can't disagree with the plot holes or questionable character motivation, but the impression I got was Amy's announcement that she's pregnant is what convinces Nick he needs to try and keep the marriage together if only to protect the child from his psychopathic wife. This might come a little late in the proceedings, but the film clearly wants the final kiss-off to be that this ugliness/deceit will extend to the next generation.
That's my impression too. "Staying in it for the kids" is basically a short-cut to fuck with said kid's life. Divorce is no picnic either, but in my experience there is a kind of honesty to it that while not easy to live through, with the right parents, it's easier to manage and still have an okay life.

That said, the heightened reality did feel a touch too clever at times, but often (for me anyway) it was undercut by either more grounded scenarios (Amy getting robbed of her money) or stuff so over the top you can't help but admire it (the whole NPH murder scene, maybe something that will be remembered one of Fincher's better examples of his visualist style).
At some point during watching it today, I thought someone behind me was fidgeting with their seat. About a few beats in I realized it was the score, and remembered there were no seats directly behind me at all.

User avatar
Cameron Swift
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:52 pm
Location: Calgary, Alberta

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#67 Post by Cameron Swift » Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:04 pm

warren oates wrote:
SpoilerShow
--The woodshed: So let me get this straight, according to Amy's frame-up fiction Nick supposedly bought himself all those man cave items on a secret credit card he knew they couldn't afford to pay off but then didn't unbox let alone use them because why exactly? And how does her discovering this and making it part of her anniversary game play out if the cops find it all first, as they were supposed to, with her Punch and Judy dolls on top?
SpoilerShow
Once Affleck's character discovered the woodshed full of boxed goodies, I immediately thought he should go to the police with this find because it would basically exonerate him. And yet, the inept cops somehow saw it as reinforcing their theories. A poorly written plot point in a movie full of them (I found myself in agreement with much of your post) and yet, a movie that I still found thoroughly entertaining.

User avatar
hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#68 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:46 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Ugh, this movie made me feel ill. I'm very much with Warren on this one, specifically in his point that
SpoilerShow
The big character twist for Rosamund Pike feels fake because the character she's revealed to be is literally a person who does not exist, a character type that has no analogue in reality. The thing is, she is a character that abusers pretend exist all the time, the mysterious woman whom they totally never touched but mysteriously gets beaten anyway, the rape victim where it was totally consensual and she's just a lying sociopath. It is, to say the least, extremely upsetting to have this phantom given form- like, as though this movie was written as self justification by a gestalt of a number of serial abusers.

I get the satirical elements, that it's as much about the media as it is about our characters, and the way it inverts abusive relationships has a neat symmetry to it, but in a world in which people pretend that false rape accusations happen hundreds of times more often than they do, it's difficult to sit through False Rape Accusation: the Movie.
This film made me ill too. It was such an up-and-down experience. I went in more or less fresh, never having read the book, and while none of the 'surprises' were all that surprising (for starters, Nick's guilt/innocence never felt very ambiguous), I definitely admired the craft. As a technical director, Fincher is second to none, but more than ever, he's at the mercy of his material, and while I appreciated the shifts from thriller to satire, somewhere during the second half…
SpoilerShow
…when she douses herself with red wine and it becomes obvious that she was going to set-up Desi and likely kill him…
…I felt like the film had jumped off the rails and the rest was like watching each passenger car inevitably tumbling and crashing one-by-one into a complete wreck. I tried to come at it as if it needed to be appreciated as grand, over-the-top satire, but it's not even amusing, much less wickedly funny. I can't get on board with the arguments that this film offers sharp observations about marriage because I've seen those same observations made elsewhere. What this material does is shear everything of all emotional context. The relationships here seem cartoonishly vacuous. Even the worst, manipulative marriages and relationships are marked by some kind of pain, but I don't get a real sense of that. By the end, Amy felt very artificial and very much like a vessel for cheap cynicism.
SpoilerShow
The comparisons to Vertigo - which the novel reportedly references - seem insulting. Not an actual reference, but during their last meeting, Tanner laughs and tells Nick that he and Amy have the most fucked-up relationship on the planet. I remember using those exact same words once to describe Scottie and Madeleine but their relationship was profoundly fucked-up, driven by torturous pain and desire (for each other) on both sides. I feel like some people here are rationalizing that something similar is happening with Nick and Amy - I can think of a few moments that suggest this, but I can't possibly call these defining moments for the characters as they're buried by so much more that suggests otherwise.

User avatar
JAP
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 8:17 am
Location: 39ºN,8ºW
Contact:

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#69 Post by JAP » Wed Oct 22, 2014 5:55 pm

David Bordwell's "thoughts on the film’s storytelling strategies", drawing a lot of parallels with Leave Her to Heaven.

User avatar
R0lf
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 7:25 am

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#70 Post by R0lf » Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:53 pm

I thought it played as an update to Three Colours White specifically it's themes of "equality" in a relationship.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#71 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:53 pm

Suburban Basic Instinct.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#72 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:58 am

Fancier remake of The Room.

User avatar
Drucker
Your Future our Drucker
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#73 Post by Drucker » Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:23 pm

Warren, excellent post. Also, to you Cold Bishop and bluelph24. I don't know how this film will feel in a year, but I enjoyed it for the most part today.

The media satire was definitely the best part to me, as well as the funniest and most spot-on. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Scream 4. Amy's obsession with her media image was fascinating. As my wife rightly points out, she never had a personality of her own, and certainly used her boyfriends and parent's book to define herself.
SpoilerShow
Turning her into a crazy sociopath works for me, in the dynamic of the film here.
SpoilerShow
Ultimately, I'd love to see this film again. Like Zodiac, the ambiguity at the end, and not having a true feeling that the film has wrapped up isn't something I mind. I think it works. But the film is perhaps trying to do too much. A satire on marriage. A satire on media. A detective story. A black comedy. It doesn't always do them all well, and perhaps the media satire is the only one that works the whole way through for me.

Plot-holes-wise, though, will this hold up? I re-watch Se7en every so often and find it holds up so well, and appreciate it more and more every time. This film? You're telling me the cops didn't even look at Desi's cameras to actually ensure she was there the whole time? There is no evidence whatsoever Desi came to the house on the day she was allegedly kidnapped. No witness. No toll roads passed. Nothing. Lastly, Desi was obviously wealthy beyond all logic, which is oddly never explained (and is it explained how Amy knows he's rich?)...rich people don't just disappear like that (see: Amy's disappearance). She couldn't have gotten away with it as easily as she does, in other words).

In fact, NPH feels like a pretty lazy plot-device. The other boyfriend accused of rape had his life ruined by Amy. It's a great scene that opens Nick's and the audiences eyes in a very effective way. NPH is somehow an incredibly rich and successful man who somehow secretly always harbored a love for his first girlfriend who was mean to him and kept him on a leash during their relationship?

Maybe it's in the book, but thinking about it now, it bugs me.

User avatar
hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#74 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:04 pm

I think most people here were far more impressed with the media satire than I was. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't all that insightful - it felt like a broad aggregate of fairly typical criticism.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

#75 Post by movielocke » Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:06 am

Drucker,
SpoilerShow
she was hiding out in a cabin on table rock lake near branson, it's about a three to four hour drive to north st Louis with no toll roads and it's definitely possible to make without Gasing up.

I also thought that desi's family was rich enough to make any Amy generated problems go away if she had fucked with him like she did the ex boyfriend, but my wife said she didn't think Amy had done anything to Desi because he had more value to her as a backup/bailout. Using him to satisfy her fetish for wrecking lives wasn't a move she'd make.

But then she got the utility she wanted out of him, he crossed her and she graduated up the snuff ladder to murder.

Post Reply