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He Said, She Said Review Site

Gone Girl

What She said:


Like so many of my movie reviews, this one comes with a story. So, I was sitting at my desk at work one day—yes, I actually have a day job—and a coworker came busting in my office.

"Do you have a copy of Gone Girl?" she asked.

Her excitement was palpable, even if I was absolutely bewildered by what she was asking. I had never even heard of Gone Girl, and certainly didn't own a copy that she could borrow for her book club. Oh yeah, I should clarify that this was the purpose of her visit. Even though I had nothing to offer her, I was left intrigued. What was all this frenzy over a book? So I immediately went out and bought a copy. While there were some things I did not like about the book, I was overall impressed. It was dark and absolutely enthralling. Fast-forward to just a few months ago and I caught wind of the fact that a movie version of the story was being released. I'll admit, I was excited to see it.

Gone Girl

Alas, I did not have the opportunity to see it in the theater, but I anxiously awaited its release for home viewing. And then finally that day arrived last Tuesday. While the movie had a bit of an odd feel, I did for the most part enjoy it.

The film introduces us to Nick and Amy Dunne, an All-American couple with a not-too-perfect marriage. Things start out well for them. They meet in New York, fall in love easily, and lead an exciting life together. But then everything starts to fall apart, culminating in a move to Missouri to tend to Nick's ailing mother. The relationship is never the same after they relocate.

The film flashes back and forth between the past and the present. And in the present, the drama gets kicked up a notch when Amy goes missing on the couple's wedding anniversary. It should be clarified that Amy always forces Nick to participate in a pretty tricky scavenger hunt on their anniversary, and this year is no different. Amy had the opportunity to set up clues for her husband before she disappeared. Nick tries to follow the clues in an effort to figure out Amy's whereabouts, but in the meantime he is under intense scrutiny from the police.

Basically, Nick's transgressions have made him a not-so-likeable person of interest, and the media has done nothing but fuel the fire. The public is sensing murder, but Nick believes that Amy is not only still alive, but that she is setting him up to take the fall for her disappearance. The viewer is not fully made aware of who is really the bad guy until we're well into the movie. Even then, a lot of it is relative, and so each person may feel a little differently about what plays out on screen and who is ultimately at fault. Some may be disappointed by the ending of the film, although the book concludes in a very similar fashion.

Gone Girl

While Gone Girl is a bit on the longer side, I felt like it passed fairly quickly and painlessly. What we get to watch is fascinating, and so it is not difficult to become consumed by the story. The film stays fairly true to the book, and manages to bring a compelling plotline to the big screen. It was directed by David Fincher, which you can clearly feel in the styles that he's created. I think the story that we see play out is fine, and I don't really have any gripes regarding the cinematography. However, something else in Gone Girl felt a little off.

It seems like it was the portrayal of the characters that threw me for a loop. They were all equally unlikeable in the book, but on screen they just seem a little more strange. No one in this film is the least bit relatable, and they all seemed to be under the influence of some mildly sedating drug. Maybe this film dually serves as a commentary on our over-medicated society. They all seemed a bit spaced out most of the time, and that just didn't seem right to me. I think that was an intentional style technique of the filmmaker, and it was not one that I necessarily agreed with. Without any attachment to the characters, the movie was interesting to watch, but not as engaging to experience.

I complain about the portrayal of the characters, but I'm not sure I can blame the actors. Ben Affleck as Nick and Rosamund Pike as Amy are both passable. I think they were actually instructed to act the way they did. I blame the director.

Still, Gone Girl is a good enough story that is not too painful to watch. It's interesting and effective in its goal of manipulating the viewer's emotions.

Thumbs mostly up.


What He said:

Gone Girl

I love a good crime drama. Nine times out of 10, if given the choice, I’m watching a movie about aliens, action heroes, monsters, or a comedy. I don’t get the same kind of thrill out of dramas as I do other genres. However, I love a good crime drama. Whether it’s about gangs, the mafia, a serial killer, or an isolated incident in an otherwise seemingly perfect environment, like in this movie, I find something fascinating about people who do things I wouldn’t even consider doing. The human mind is a fascinating thing on its own, but when you factor in sex, drugs, violence, or just plain crazy people, there is usually  good story to be told.

It’s the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary and Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is at a bar brooding over his next move. He owns the bar along with his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon). We find out later in the movie that he was actually contemplating whether he wanted to stay married to his wife Amy or not.

Gone Girl

But let’s back track a bit first. Nick and Amy met several years ago at a party. When they met, she seemed disinterested. Seemed disinterested, but it’s always hard to tell with her (Rosamund Pike). Amy is a little picky and hard to please. She also likes to play games. When she likes you, she can be flirty and sarcastic, but given that she’s picky and a little odd, it’s always hard to tell with her. Is she acting that way because she likes you or doesn’t like you? My point is, her demeanor doesn’t change a whole lot either way. It can be hard to tell if she’s being rude or what she thinks is fun and flirty. Anyway, they hit it off, things get hot and heavy, and they eventually get married.

She likes to play games, which brings us back to the present. Nick comes home from the bar and discovers she is not home. That’s not all either. Parts of the house are trashed. He eventually calls the cops and they begin an investigation. Nick is cooperative, but still not certain she’s missing. As I said, she likes to play games and would often leave notes and send him on scavenger hunts, particularly on their anniversary.

Nick is not initially a suspect, but his demeanor – he doesn’t shed a single tear or much concern – during the investigation, press conferences, and all other hullabaloo that goes along with a high profile missing person’s case.
I have to point something out. The movie tries to make you think he’s a suspect, because he doesn’t seem very concerned, but neither do her parents, or her sister-in-law. Nick and his in-laws walk around as if they are in a drug-induced state. All three of them seem like they are high. I mean that quite literally. They all seemed like they were doped up patients at a mental ward. He wasn’t the only one to not shed a tear – even her own parents didn’t. Margo doesn’t show much concern either. In fact, she lets it be known to Nick that she was not Amy’s biggest fan, but doesn’t want to see anything happen to her because she’s Nick’s wife.

Gone Girl

The movie is very much a “did he or didn’t he”, but it’s certainly not the only aspect of the story. There’s another major component of the story, but I can’t talk too much about it without spoiling it for you. I will say though that we learn that Amy has a history with bad boyfriends. We find out that at least two of them were accused of stalking and abusing her.
One of them is Desi Collings. Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) is a very wealthy man. I don’t remember if the movie explains what he does for a living or not, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he is very wealthy and also a little eccentric. He is like something out of a Hannibal Lector story. You don’t know what exactly is up with him, but you know that he makes you feel uncomfortable. There’s something about him that gives off a very creepy vibe.

I thought this movie was a little flat the first 30 or so minutes. Not bad, just not overly exciting. I was learning towards a thumbs half up if it continued at that pace. The things got very interesting during the middle part of the story. I can say that I was legitimately interested I what was going to happen next. But the final act of the movie was completely ridiculous. The story was not believable. It went very over-the-top, which is fine, but I still need to believe this could happen and I didn’t. I didn’t even believe that the characters could believe what was happening, that’s how unconvincing it was. The story did not convince me, it just annoyed me by how poorly executed it was.

I mentioned earlier that I felt the many of the actors came off a little out there. They had this air about them that made the not seem like real characters. I could see one or two of them acting that way, but there were too many acting like they were on prescription medication. Even Neil Patrick Harris was acting like that. They were all too calm and creepily calm. Tyler Perry, who played Nick’s lawyer, and Carrie Coon were the only people acting like normal people. I don’t know why, but I have to think that’s director David Fincher’s fault. The She read the book and said the characters didn’t act like that, which again makes me think the director and/or the screen writer added that aspect. It didn’t work at all.

Gone Girl

Rosamund Pike got a lot of praise for the role. Like I said earlier, the middle part of the movie was pretty interesting. That’s where she shines. But the rest of the time she came off like a Stepford wife.  I don’t’ think people act like that and I don’t think if someone did act like that it wouldn’t set off multiple red flags. It’s not real or believable. You can see through it and I don’t believe that the other character’s wouldn’t have. The only reason is because that’s what the author wanted them to do.

Patrick Fugit’s character came off that way too. He was a cop who hated Affleck’s character from the get go. He thought he was guilty before there was even reason to hate him. He came off like he was written that way too. It didn’t have a natural flow to it. It didn’t seem like one character hated the other, it seemed like one was forced to hate the other because he was written so unbelievably angry towards a man he just met and knew almost nothing about.

Between that and the story, which got awful by the end of the movie, I thought this movie was bad and quite bad at that. Oh, and the twist was pretty obvious to be honest. I didn’t figure out every little detail, but the biggest part of it was obvious pretty early on. Its praise shocks me frankly, because I thought this movie was awful. Maybe they just did a really bad job adapting the book?

Rating: Thumbs down.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on January 24, 2015

Gone Girl