Friday, October 24, 2014

Gone Girl

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Nick (Ben Affeck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) move from New York back to his native Missouri after he gets laid-off from his job. She uses what remains of her trust fund to open a bar for him and his twin sister as their main source of income. Their marriage is on the rocks and he is about to ask her for a divorce. On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary he goes to the beach for some alone time, visits his sister, and goes back to an empty house. His wife is missing, and the only clue as to what could have transpired is a broken center table, prompting authorities to assume that a crime has been committed. It does not take long before he becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s murder. All the clues, investigation results, as well as the resulting media circus point to him as the culprit, but he insists that he is innocent. Enlisting the help of America’s top defense attorney for spousal killings, he tries to reverse his public image as that of a loving husband convinced that his wife is not really dead and that she would soon come back to him. But is he doing this out of concern, or as a possible way out? Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

The experience would probably be different for those who have already read the book, given the complicated plot device effectively used to provide an interesting narrative. Even so, the curiosity on how to translate such tricky prose from paper to film is enough to convince hardcore fans of the book to give the movie a chance. Such curiosity works both ways, as moviegoers who have not read the book would then be intrigued as to how that kind of screenplay would look like in book form, without giving away much of the plot twist. That aside, Gone Girl is a good thriller which would prompt you to reevaluate the foundation of your very own relationship. After all, blood and intrigue aside, the central theme here is still that of a failing marriage.

Affleck is okay and gives a good enough performance of a panicking husband fighting both for his freedom and against the state’s lethal injection. The moviegoer has no choice but to depend on him as the main anchor for this cinematic journey, given how the wife is predominantly just seen in flashbacks or heard reading her journal entries. His helplessness in facing the situation he has been put in resonates with the audience, as you are also just as curious as he is to find out what is really going on. And so you root for him somehow, making his character more relatable because you have a common goal in mind, which is to find out if he really killed his wife.

Pike should at least receive an Oscar nod for this. She really does outshine Affleck; simply put, this is HER movie. The way she viciously attacks her role is comparable to that of Glenn Close during her Fatal Attraction heydays. Of course, no one would argue that Pike is just so aesthetically pleasing to look at, but her voice, which features in the narration of her character’s diaries, also plays a crucial role in drawing you in thanks to that mesmerizing tone telling you that there is more to this woman that meets the eye. She is hiding something, and you would like to discover what that something is.

The plot twist is tossed in halfway through the movie, explaining how everything happens from a different point of view. The feeling that you get is similar to that of being Punk’d. On one hand, you hate on the author for the BS she has put you through for an hour or so. On the other hand, you could not help but admire her guts for such brand of storytelling. After all, conning a cinema packed with people into believing this and that, only to make them realize later on that it is neither really this nor that, is truly commendable. Such effort deserves all the praises it could get, seriously. You forgive her anyway, because when you look back you find all the red herrings purposefully scattered in the film to trip you. As such, a second or even third viewing would still be worth your while.

Another aspect of the film that you would love is the commentary on contemporary media culture and the effects it has on modern society. Whether such critique of the status quo is intentional or not, it does point out a glitch in human relations, which in itself is also interesting enough to warrant attention.

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