Gone Girl was a movie I couldn’t look away from, but for all the wrong reasons. Before I get started, I’d like to clarify a few things: David Fincher was not the problem with this film, nor were the actors. The problem lies solely and completely with the writing. I haven’t read the novel, so I won’t pretend to know the differences that came about with the adaptation. All I know is what was on the screen, and that’s what I’ll be reviewing.
This film was a rollercoaster for its entire length, some of it good, most of it not so good. I hesitate to call it a “bad” movie, because it really isn’t that. The cinematography is all gorgeous shots and wonderful lighting, the actors throw themselves headfirst into the swirling maelstrom that is the plot with aplomb and carry it all the way through to its incredibly frustrating end. But after the first 10 minutes or so, I felt a burgeoning sense of dread at the thought that I still had another 2 hours and 20 minutes left.
The dialogue in the first flashback of the film (and really all of them) feels overly witty and pretentious, as if in an attempt to make the audience connect more with Nick and Amy Dunne. It screams, “Hey! Don’t you like these characters? Look how witty they are!” and yet the scenes with Nick and his sister Margo (confusingly addressed as “Go” at random points in the film, resulting in some strangely worded lines) are both witty and realistic. There isn’t the sense that Gillian Flynn is gently nudging you with her elbow from the seat next to you and whispering “Wow, aren’t these characters great?” It’s just genuine dialogue, you know, like how actual humans speak.
To be perfectly blunt, the first third of the movie is absolute garbage. It is a blundering mess filled with extremely poor logic by nearly everyone on screen except for Margo and Detective Rhonda Boney. But don’t get your hopes up; by the end, these characters also succumb to the poor writing and lose all of the rational thinking they once had. The end of act one had me at my wit’s end. I was done. The plot shift left me beyond frustrated and I began to give up on the film redeeming itself. But then it did.
The second act of Gone Girl is exactly what the movie should’ve been for its entirety. The characters are making smart decisions, the plot is moving forward at a great pace, the dialogue no longer makes me feel like I’m back in my Intro to Fiction class. All is right with the world. For an entire hour, things go smoothly. The climax is intense and visually stunning; it is an example of proper storytelling and filmmaking. But then, like all good things in this movie, it completely falls apart.
To say the last 30 minutes of the film left me disappointed is an understatement beyond comprehension. I’d like for you to picture two people. One is this suave, intriguing, well-dressed guy that buys you drinks and regales you with incredible stories in his smooth, smooth, baritone voice. The other is a drunk you see on the street and occasionally under a bridge. That drunk is the first third and last 30 minutes of Gone Girl. That suave baritone of a man is the second third of the movie. You thought you got rid of the drunk when Mr. Baritone showed up and asked him to leave, but near the end of the night, a current of foul-smelling booze wafts beneath your nose and you’re startled by the fact that Mr. Baritone is gone now, replaced by the drunk, who stumbles toward you smelling of malt liquor and ridiculously stupid endings.
It doesn’t seem very fair to give Gone Girl a 4/10 based on the poorness of the writing alone. The film in all other aspects was fantastic. Literally every other aspect, actually. It is a quality flick except for the writing, and that is quite a shame. There is a layer of satire that permeates much of what happens in the movie, so perhaps I’ve been too critical. I’m giving it a 6/10, and I do believe that Gone Girl is a movie worth seeing, just not one you’ll catch me re-watching.
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