If there was a film that has everyone buzzing, it’s David Fincher’sGone Girl. The fact that it was chosen as the opener for the New York Film Festival cemented that. We already know Fincher can play in the mainstream lane with his critically acclaimed film The Social Network, but could he go pulpy with a pulsating thriller? The answer is, he absolutely can.
Gone Girl is based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, a thriller whose narrative is half compromised of diary entries by Nick Dunne’s missing wife, Amy Dunne. As the days go by, Dunne finds himself as a prime suspect at the center of his wife’s murder.
With perfect casting of Ben Affleck as impossibly handsome murder suspect Nick Dunne, and head scratching choices like Neil Patrick Harris as affluent creep Desi, opinions on Gone Girl were going to be divisive. Would Flynn’s meticulous structure fit with what Fincher cooked up? Does all of that insight in the novel get lost up on the big screen? After the premiere of Gone Girl, the audience was split, but for those who enjoyed it, they really dug it. As a thriller that uses familiar tropes and smart black comedy, there’s a hell of a lot to indulge in with the tone Fincher sets.
The film is probably Fincher’s most accessible piece, and that’s putting aside some of the raunchier scenes. Aside from being a captivating mystery, Gone Girl speaks to the machine of the media, and how we indulge and deconstruct the morals and behaviors of public figures. Fincher is unapologetic, and uses it to his advantage to layer his captivating thriller.
Although he’s been largely criticized for driving actors insane with his controlling manner, it did wonders for Ben Affleck, who is often a hit or miss for many critics. This is probably his best recent performance, and he reins any impulse to chew the scenery from the start. The real star of the film was always going to be Rosamund Pike, as the complex character Amy Dunne, but I wondered if she could live up to my expectations. The short answer is that she did. She is terrifying in a very Fatal Attraction-esque way, and is overwhelmingly captivating.
After the screening the cast of Gone Girl, author Gillian Flynn and director David Fincher gathered to give a few insights about making one of the most exciting films of the season.
1. Gone Girl is a perfect marriage between Gillian Flynn’s novel and David Fincher’s vision.
While this is not a page-by-page adaptation, and characters, such as Nick’s parents, are pared down, it’s still very faithful to the novel. Ben Affleck explained it best.
“What was very interesting was the book asked very hard questions about marriage and relationships. It didn’t want to gloss over what we don’t like to look at in others and ourselves. Sometimes you find out ugly things when you ask hard questions. We wanted to give truth to Gillian’s really dark look at marriage and David’s subversive take on the dark look at marriage.”
2. Nick may appear differently in the eyes of some women.
The novel speaks to the roles men and women take on in a budding relationship, and the natural ebbs and flows of a marriage. Flynn’s novel was widely criticized because of the general depictions. Affleck saw the polarizing opinions on his character Nick Dunne almost immediately.
“What I found is that women and men have a very different reaction to this character. Most of the women journalists go, ‘What was it like playing a d–k?’ Most of the men just go, [pause] ‘Yeah.”
3. Rosamund Pike’s Amy Dunne is not your typical revenge girl.
Although revenge is one of the themes of the film, there’s a lot more to Amy than being a simple bored housewife. Pike spoke about the complexity of the character.
“She’s alluring, unpalatable, compelling, confounding. All those things. It goes beyond like or dislike. I understand her and like or dislike doesn’t come into it. I’m really interested in the fact that I don’t think she could have been a man. The way her brain works is purely female. She’s a modern woman.”
4. David Fincher on his obvious casting.
The most enjoyable part of the press conference was seeing Fincher and Affleck rib each other. Fincher got a shot in while talking about casting.
“Ben is just really obvious casting. I met Tyler [Perry] and was taken back by his calmness, he has this apparatus that makes you feel like you’re heard. Rosamund was someone I’d seen in a few movies over the years and I never got a sense of who she was, I met her, we talked for three hours, she told me about her childhood and being an only child I knew the person who played Amy had to have that, and Ben, was available”
5. Ben Affleck enjoyed working with David Fincher.
As mentioned, Fincher doesn’t have the best reputation with actors. In the past, Jake Gyllenhaal has complained about Fincher, and he’s not alone in being frustrated with Fincher. Affleck didn’t find a problem with the director, even though he did note that Fincher has the tendency to see more than the actors in the frame, which suited him.
“I’m kind of at this point of my career as an actor and decided that it’s just all about the director, really. I would film the phone book with David. Before all my movies that I’ve directed I’ve watched Se7en it’s the most perfect, meticulous thing, makes me ask the question, what kind of person would make a movie like this? Despite his reputation David is a nice guy.”
Gone Girl hits theaters on October 3, 2014.
[Images by Niki Cruz / 20th Century Fox]