365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Gone Girl (2014)

Halfway through Gone Girl, I thought I was watching this year's movie to beat. It had everything I wanted in a terse murder mystery/thriller.  It had the small town file (which I love). We know who the main potential suspect may be from the film's opening minutes. But this potential suspect may also be the film's protagonist. And we are left guessing about his guilt or innocence through a huge majority of the film. We like him. We don't like him. We hate him. We love him. We go through the gamut of emotions and this leaves us exhausted as we sit on the edge of our seats.  But the movie really unravels in the last 45 minutes with more absurdities than a a Jim Carrey movie. Suddenly this well thought out thriller becomes a bit of a mockery of itself in an attempt to separate it from other whodunit movies.

I usually don't take about the sound this early in a review, but the score was absolutely incredible. This is easily the best score I've heard since The Dark Knight Rises. From the very first scene all the way to the very last, the music steers the music from one scene to the next. The heavy drum beats pulsate through the entire theater when a new clue is about to be discovered or when a when we are in the middle of a scene that is particularly tense. The movie is often broken up by Amy's (Rosemund Pike - An Education, Fracture) voice. This is a big component of the picture. Whether we hear her voice as she is reading a five year wedding anniversary "clue" for husband Nick (Ben Affleck - The Town, Argo) to find his present in an attempt to rekindle some romance/intrigue in their relationship or if she is reading from her diary, Amy's off-screen voice-overs are almost as much of a character as the screen presence of her is. At first, I found her voice to be pretty annoying, but they quickly become part of the story.

The movie revolves around the disappearance of Amy. It is present day and it's the fifth anniversary of Amy and Ben. Ben spends the late part of his morning at a bar that he owns with his sister Margo (Carrie Coon - HBO's The Leftovers). Rather than celebrating with his wife, Ben tells Margo he plans on telling Amy on that day that he wants a divorce. Upon returning home, he finds a glass coffee table in his living room shattered. His wife is nowhere to be found. And here we have our story.

There are numerous flashbacks in this movie and they are awesome. We are able to see the back story of Nick and Amy, from the very first time they meet, their quick courtship, and their  slowly deteriorating marriage. The couples certainly has had their ups and downs. They couldn't keep their hands off each other in the early parts of their relationship, going as far as to have sex in a public library. They were rich at one point due primarily to a trust set up in Amy's name (they did lose almost all of that money before she got to spend any of it). They lost their jobs due to the recession and, because of Nick's ailing mom, move from New York City to a small town two hours outside of St. Louis. During their marriage, Amy felt less and less useful and believed Nick no longer loved her. The movie sets up nicely through the back and forth between the flashbacks and real time events.

If you want this movie to be a full-fledged drama, you are going to be disappointed. I believe this is why I was left disappointed. It starts off as something way darker and more mysterious than it ends up as. The dark, gritty true crime vibe that we are introduced too ever so slowly gives way to something that is way to absurd to believe. I know that was the intention of both writer Gillian Flynn and director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club), but that's not where I wanted the movie to go after devoting my first hour and 45 minutes to something that I felt was intricately planned and believable. I will do nothing more than quickly mention Desi Collins (played by Neil Patrick Harris - television's How I Met Your Mother). Once he enters the picture, the movie went downhill for me. The plausibility that this story could, through meticulous planning, be carried out was thrown out the window. I understand the need to want to make a whodunit potential kidnapping/potential murder unique from all of the other movies that are out there, but Gone Girl takes it in a completely different direction and left me not just scratching my head, but wanting me to yell out, "Really?!?!"

Unlike a television series that you can judge season by season or even a franchise that you can evaluate film by film, a standalone needs to be assessed as a whole. For this reason, Gone Girl can only be scored as a slightly above average movie. It left me with an unsatisfied taste in my mouth. I felt cheated by the farfetched, almost careless ending. The ending left  far too many holes and let far too many people off the hook. It's almost as if some of these well thought out characters were made to purposefully stupid.

I do recommend seeing the movie with the understanding that you most likely will be frustrated by it. It's worth seeing, if only for the first two-thirds. It's also worth seeing because the performances were top notch and likely will be recognized come awards season. Affleck was amazing and Pike was even better, although it took a little while for her strong performance to really kick in.

Plot 8.4/10
Character Development 8.5/10
Character Chemistry 8.5/10
Acting 8.5/10
Screenplay 8/10
Directing  8/10
Cinematography 9/10
Sound 10/10 (no movie does its music better in 2014)
Hook and Reel 9.5/10
Universal Relevance 8/10

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