MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By 20th Century Fox
Directed by David Fincher. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
Gone Girl was a huge bestselling book and, like so many things that everyone’s reading and talking about, it was overhyped and given far more importance than it merited. Many reviews called it a dark commentary on modern marriage and relationships. I found it to be well written, very readable and full of surprises, with the ability to involve the reader in a first-person narrative by a person who may or may not be telling us the truth.
The main challenge in turning this book into a film was deciding how to tell the events cinematically, where the audience must see everything that happens and no longer rely on an unreliable narrator. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the book, worked with director David Fincher and succeeded in crafting a movie that is filled with energy and constant forward motion (a quality that is enhanced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ propulsive score). Fincher has assembled a great cast with a fine performance by Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, a husband who finds his wife missing on the day of their fifth anniversary and soon becomes a prime suspect. Rosamund Pike’s star turn as Amy Dunne (the missing wife, whose scenes are told in flashbacks) is simply amazing, filled with surprising character development.
That’s the main mystery, folks – a missing wife and a suspected husband – and to tell you more would spoil the fun.
There is some fine social commentary in the film but it mostly consists of satirical jabs at our 24/7 news cycle and how the media tends to go after a hint of scandal like sharks after chum. (Actor Ben Affleck is well acquainted with this phenomenon, which creates a bit of a Meta moment.) But that’s it. Describing Gone Girl as a commentary about marriage is like saying that 1976’s Marathon Man is a meditation on dentistry. Both films are sensational potboilers, plain and simple; well made junk food by seasoned pros.
I shook my head moments after leaving the theater, thinking about the ridiculous plot twists. But I had to give the movie credit for keeping things entertaining. There’s a whole lot of sin on the screen, so mind the pitchforks. The greatest thing about seeing this movie with my wife was how fantastic we both felt about our marriage afterwards. Compared to Nick and Amy Dunne, we’re golden!
Two halos: A talented director and cast make an entertaining and darkly funny film.
Five pitchforks: Specific details would spoil the film’s surprises, but this one has all the pitchforks – language, sex, nudity, violence, as well as duplicity and greed.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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