Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike soar in David Fincher’s screen adaptation
Ben Affleck first appears in Gone Girl curbside. It’s trash day. The streets are clear. There are no police, no lights, no press. This neighborhood’s precious sanctity will not last.
Nick Dunne’s (Affleck) wife will soon be missing. Growing evidence will place Dunne as her killer with a vicious and exploitative news cycle condemning the man even before his trial.
Gone Girl is explicit, but not for its sexuality or voraciously adult scenario. Rather, it is the peering into primetime news coverage which splatters Dunne with accusations and commentators who use the brunt of their perverse mean streak. Gone Girl mauls America’s click happy, ratings grabbing, ultimately deceitful news by copying its tactics without embellishment.
Meanwhile, David Fincher’s screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s twisted, even cynical novel moves forward with Dunne in a panic. His support systems break down. His (not so) twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) lashes out – and she should. No one in Gone Girl is a good person to almost satirical levels.
The film is about sociopaths, psychopaths, and other “paths” which have not yet been diagnosed. Its world, ever seedy and dim as per Fincher’s and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s usual palette, is seemingly stacked against a textured male villain. Narrative is rubbed into the center of the recession, following a once unusually pure marriage as it breaks down. Dunne becomes the aggressor.
He may be crazy. Maybe he is trapped. Or, his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is invisibly controlling. Gone Girl has its twist, unorthodox as it is cutting through the middle of the film rather than at an audience-grabbing ending. That leaves an entire act to play, manipulate, and generously attack. Gone Girl never feels complete because the mind games are so compelling.
Dialog is of a high class. Nick & Amy, in flashback, become a couple who thrive on their own intellectual narcissism. With their flaunted vocabulary, they promise never to become “that couple,” preferring their snooty and stiffly superior selves to those they see as beneath them. Their exchanges are uncomfortable, but not for their perverted worldview. Rather, the sense of a potential eruption as they draw nearer to a financial crisis which turns into Gone Girl’s tipping point.
Fincher’s feature is a wily, unpredictable psychological affair which bounces from its twist with endless probable outcomes
Much of Gone Girl’s first act is complacent – a husband fighting a possible murder conviction after his wife disappears. This is ‘Law & Order’ fodder; Gone Girl even makes a snickering joke in reference. Handling the case is an unsure detective (Kim Dickens) who moves with improbable speed in searching for information around a rattled, confused Dunne.
The eventual twist is more than a reveal. Cue ‘Law & Order’s’ two note transition: Gone Girl is now removing itself from a typical procedural pattern, glossy as it may be. Suddenly, Fincher’s feature is a wily, unpredictable psychological affair which bounces from its twist with endless probable outcomes. Gone Girl becomes entertainingly frustrating, depraved, and insatiably good – great even – as it ensnares key players into a deviously symbolic gender game which excitedly flips the archetypal perspective.
Calling upon the Red Epic Dragon, Fincher lenses his moody and atmospheric thriller with a penchant for beautifully controlled light and hard shadows. Scenes are densely captured with hard dividing lines, from carefully layered interior light directly segueing into shadows. Details are prevalent, at least half the time.
Unlike his prior Social Network, Gone Girl shows the rapid progression of digital cinema. This follow-up is free from areas of noise. Black levels are denser (mostly). Resolution is vivid. Sharpness is consistent with the cinematography. Gone Girl has few dazzle moments, yet the feature is visually stable and remarkably beautiful in its own intentionally dreary way. Encoding work from Fox is ridiculously superb with bitrates at levels rarely seen so high.
Definition is pleasing, scattered in the frame from shot to shot. Background set details are notable with exteriors pouring from the screen. Close-ups which make up many of the dialog scenes glisten when in view. Hair detail (some digitally added as needed) is phenomenal. Each strand is clear.
A limiting color palette courtesy of post production work covers most of Gone Girl in varying shades of blue-ish/gray. Interiors, when lit by small amount of indoor lighting, gather a warm yellowed glow. The only shots which blossom with primaries are exteriors of the Dunne home. Surrounding foliage is notably green with a brightness battling this film’s dour tonality.
Fincher’s use of spectacular and understated audio continues across all of his works, notable here for a score which is almost concealed behind the rest of this material. Yet, the music is still present, wrapping across the width of a spacious 7.1 mix and notably piercing the high-end with its sometimes screechy levels.
Without gunfire or high action, effects placement relies on heavy ambiance which adores the calls of insects and birds. Night becomes a cricket symphony. Location scenes include an airport which captures the constant flight calls while busy police stations spread the usual ringing phones with some ambient chatter.
After being bonded, Dunne enters a car soon surrounded by spectators. They pound on windows and slam on the roof. Audio design places the listener in the car effortlessly. Hits to the metal or glass come from all directions. It’s spectacular work and as with most of the mix, totally subtle.
Fincher provides a solo commentary, which becomes the only bonus here. While active, the track has dry spots. Some of the information is jokey but often informative such as the lack of effectiveness in wig technology. Hence, the need for digital hair.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.