As a follow up to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), David Fincher adapts another selection of popular crime/mystery/thriller/murder fiction. As popular culture becomes ever more inundated with this sort of thing, it does become more difficult for films like Gone Girl to distinguish themselves from another episode of 20/20, Dateline, I killed my BFF (real show title), etc. Still, Fincher's famous dexterity with aesthetics lift the proceedings to above average entertainment fair.
Rosamund Pike earned much richly deserved praise for her turn as Amy Dunne, the psychotic, Manhattanite wife of Ben Affleck's Nick Dunne. Affleck himself is fine, in typical everyman decent-but-flawed mode. Fincher keeps up a good fight with the plot developments and drama, not letting it get too out of control, until the latter part of the third act, which feels as if it goes on far too long. An understandable dilemma, as the popular page-turner on which it is based left little chance to be abridged enough without losing all sense of tone or pacing. So, the film does go off the rails to some extent, but the good qualities still make it worth exploring on HBO or a cross-country flight.
It's Fincher's overall command of the photography, soundtrack and story that once again triumph. It's easy, I suppose, to put the blame on the script, but in this case, I think it's entirely justified. The best thing Gone Girl has going for it is Fincher's pacing and ability to let the space (physical, temporal, aesthetic) come through in the film. To that end, the soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is quite helpful. Deliberate and spacey, it exemplifies ambience. Longtime Fincher DP Jeff Cronenweth's photography is dark, chilly, and beautiful while showing the right amounts of restraint so as not to overplay these qualities and create something so sumptuous that it is actually distracting. Again, this has become a hallmark of Fincher's films.
Most of the somewhat workmanlike scene-by-scene drama is bearable, but a bit off-putting in that you never sense the characters and story falling into synch. While there is some good dialogue, too much of it goes for a cutesy tone that doesn't exactly hit the dark humor that might work here—it is a little Coen-esque, but curiously doesn't agree with where the film is going..
So, a very flawed—but also quite worthy—effort from a terrific director and certainly worth checking out for anyone who likes David Fincher's recent work.