music friday: maurice chevalier, "i'm glad i'm not young anymore"
valentine’s day

oscar run 6: gone girl (david fincher, 2014)

(One Oscar nomination, Rosamund Pike for Best Actress.)

When I talk to myself, which happens frequently, I tell myself I’m not much of a fan of David Fincher. But I can never remember which of his films I’ve actually seen, beyond Seven, which I really hated. I just checked his filmography … I’ve seen Alien 3 (5/10), Fight Club and Zodiac (6/10), and The Social Network (8/10), plus I’ve got Benjamin Button sitting on my shelf awaiting my attention. I guess I could toss in House of Cards, which I gave up on before getting through the first season. Sometimes I think my favorite work of Fincher’s is the video for “Straight Up”. Mostly, I’ve skipped his movies because they didn’t seem that appealing to start with (insert obligatory nod to taste preferences). I’d seen the Noomi Rapace Dragon Tattoo, and that was enough for me, so I didn’t see Fincher’s version. Panic Room, The Game … I’m honestly surprised, I thought his filmography would be more imposing, somehow.

[This is where spoilers may creep in.]

One good thing about this is that I am not hyper-aware of Fincher’s tics. Reviews tell me that his style is all over Gone Girl, but I didn’t notice, because I don’t know enough about his style. So I wasn’t comparing Gone Girl to Zodiac as I watched. I was thinking about film noirs, or better still, Body Heat, another attempt to bring noir up to date (Body Heat’s “date” being 30+ years ago, of course). I didn’t make the Body Heat connection until halfway through the movie (those who have seen it know when this occurred), but after that …

Rosamund Pike deserves her nomination. She supposedly drew on Nicole Kidman’s performance in To Die For, and I can see that. Ultimately, I don’t think the role is written to be much different than the classic femme fatale, where the woman appears to be the root of all evil in part because she is trying to create a space for herself in a world of limited options. Pike is believable as such. Ben Affleck’s husband at least seems smarter than William Hurt in Body Heat (not a difficult task), and his likable nature as an actor is pleasing (still, one viewing of Dazed and Confused will show a different side of Affleck). He never quite loses that likable side, which throws Gone Girl off balance a bit. Pike’s character is far more interesting than Affleck’s, and she’s the one getting the Oscar nomination. But he plays the patsy to her dominant woman, and by the end of the film, I think we’re supposed to feel worse for him than for his wife.

It should be noted that I came to Gone Girl completely cold: I didn’t know the book, hadn’t really paid attention to the trailers, so I was genuinely startled at the halfway point. When that came around, my opinion went from “this is pretty good” to “whoa, this is getting better” pretty quickly. By the end, though, I was back in Pretty Good mode. Maybe it was a simple case of going on too long … Gone Girl is more than half-an-hour longer than Body Heat, and I’m not sure why. 7/10. If it isn’t clear by now, the best companion piece would be Body Heat.

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