peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2014 10 03 GoneGirl

Gone Girl (2014)

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I skipped out of work a little early, as my productivity had become approximately negative, and headed up to the "Magnificent Mile" of North Michigan Avenue to see Fincher's latest. First time at the AMC Loews 600, which was upstairs from a Louisiana restaurant I'd been to before. Small town, at least after a while. $11.50. The men's was difficult to find. They have these clever Dyson all-in-one faucet thingies that do water and soap and dryer, but idiosyncratically; the dryer only kicked in when I removed my hands, defining me by my absence. It's that kind of space, and that kind of movie.

The seats are like business class: reclining, leg supports, wide enough for two cats and me, outsize arms for mini-meals, and assigned. The ticket girl bluffed me by claiming the screen was huge, so I sat three rows back, far off to the right when I could have sat a row forward in the middle. It turned out OK though. The couple sitting next to me talked throughout, less as it went on, and my usual metric of a good movie — that it shuts up the audience — doesn't work so well here as Americans like echoing things they agree with in validatory style, along the lines of the call and response of the Gospel churches.

The movie itself is a blend of almost everything Fincher's done before, most notably the two-track structure of Fight Club and the graphic awfulness of Se7en, right down to the immaculate boxes containing ... presents. Trent Reznor is back with a drone-y soundtrack that fits the mood perfectly. The cinematography was vintage; I mean, does anyone even notice how beautifully he and Jeff Cronenweth shoot anymore? The cat, who may be the same one who lead Inside Llewyn Davis, is squandered, and Ben Affleck proves he is not a cat person when he treats him so casually. I was almost offended to see him driving a Volvo, and that he can act this well. This kind of absence and craziness has many antecedents: the first is Kim Dickens's solid performance as a competent, sceptical police detective being so familiar from Fargo. The theme of doubt where there once was trust reminded me of Lantana. Rosamund Pike far exceeded the expectations I had of her from The World's End, and similarly matched or exceeded Nicole Kidman's craziness in To Die For. (Maybe both of their characters matched people's expectations so closely that their limitations as actors were simply ignored.) She keeps her unmentionables close for less time than you'd expect from a prim English actress. Her parents were predictably cardboard. I was a bit surprised when we lost cabin pressure so early as I figured Fincher would ride the ambiguity for longer, but no, this one has a sting in the tail. Carrie Coon as Affleck's twin sister annoyed me initially by coming off as Catherine Keener, but she develops into something more than just a man's vision of the right kind of anchor. She's also a Chicago local.

It's long, at 2.5 hours, but doesn't drag. The movie ends before consequences completely come down, which seems to be Fincher's way of saying that the mess he's made doesn't make complete sense; in that way it's more Fight Club than Se7en. St Louis and Missouri get a guernsey in the form of a Cardinals shirt that Affleck wears in almost every scene.

Unusually I read Dana Stevens afterwards. She's right that it does get a bit mechanical in the second act. Manohla Dargis. She's wrong about the cat: Affleck shows him some attention but is not careful about it. I'm glad I went in cold. Anthony Lane. I will remain one of the twenty-one who haven't read the novel. Michael Wood reminded me about Fincher's The Game. Zoƫ Heller.