10 Reasons why the critics have got it so wrong about Gone Girl

gonegirl

Last night, to dust off the writing cobwebs formed after a long summer of football, festivals, house moves and holidays, the Framerates team went to the cinema to see the highly-anticipated, critically-acclaimed, David Fincher directed, adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl. With the screenplay also by Flynn, and a top cast that included Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, our hopes were high. Could Fincher channel his immense talent to create a chilling, intelligent thriller that echoed the intensity of Se7en and Zodiac?

In a word: no.

To our surprise, though, Gone Girl is seemingly a hit with many critics. Here are ten reasons why we feel that this critical reception is a case of mass “drinking the Fincher Kool Aid”.

This article contains spoilers.

1) A faithful, unfaithful adaptation

Despite a screenplay from Flynn herself, the tense, psychological, emotionally engaging tone that is captured in the book fails to fully translate onto the screen. Flynn has faithfully stuck to the narrative laid out in the novel however without the continuous stream of thought from the characters the movie feels shallow and the characters motivations and emotional arcs unclear. This is no more apparent than in the final act of the movie where we see Amy heartlessly slaughter Desi Collings. This played on screen like the calculated acts of a horror movie psychopath whereas in the novel, despite Amy’s deplorable moral compass, the reader understands that she is left with little choice.

2) Tone issues

Perhaps Fincher added flecks of humour throughout Gone Girl to provide comic relief, and to heighten the darkest moments of the movie. However, when characters are making the stupidest decisions left, right and centre, unfortunately, the humour intended as light relief was actually just a series of snorts at the movie’s ridiculousness. An absurd movie this was; “an absurdist thriller” this was not.

3) Pacing. Pacing. Pacing.

I felt I was watching three episodes of a TV programme that were cut together by an amateur YouTube editor. I do believe that the movie got caught somewhere between police procedural and Stepford Wives thriller, and there was such a blatant division between the three acts of the film, which resulted in an extremely jarring watch.

4) Direction

Was Fincher deliberately telling his cast to act on the same level throughout the film? Everything was so flat, it felt like the director was intentionally channeling Frank Underwood and the entire feel of House of Cards, but with a mixture of Prisoners thrown in for good measure. It was very disappointing that this didn’t feel like a Fincher movie, but maybe that will act in his favour when people finally remove their tongues from his arsehole.

5) Acting

A flat tone, jarring pacing and seemingly misguided direction in Gone Girl all results in some rather underwhelming performances from the leads. Pike as Amy does a good job as coming across as cold, sharp and intelligent but fails to fully round Amy as a character- arguably this is in large part down to the lack of distinction between the opposing Amy’s (see point 7 for more). Affleck has always been a firm favourite over here at Framerates.net as an actor, as well as a director, however the stoic nature of the character of Nick required a nuanced performance that depicted an internal dialogue, instead Affleck at times felt vacant and the emotional weight was lacking.

6) Team Amy vs Team Nick

Fincher himself has said that people will leave in either a “Team Amy” or “Team Nick” camp. If the director has acknowledged that fact, there are clearly flaws in the way his characters are represented. One can claim “misogyny” towards Amy, or “men’s rights” at Nick, until they’re blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that all of the above factors have contributed to a film that leads us beautifully into Point 7.

7) Failing to define the character roles.

The single most important element of the movie to get right was the clear and apparent differences between the two Amys. ‘Cool girl’ Amy, the Amy created for Nick, and the real Amy. Fincher makes no distinction between the two opposing personalities. Without this we don’t understand Nick for falling in love with Amy and equally we don’t empathise with Amy and the façade she is forced to display. Instead of creating a compelling insight into two flawed characters, who we both empathise with and despise, or making a coherent point about gender roles and feminism, the movie leaves us with two people who we neither understand very much and who represent very little.

8) It looks beautiful, but what is below the surface?

When you look at a movie like Zodiac, you can literally peel back the nuanced layers within the frame, the acting, the cinematography and plot. In Gone Girl, because the characters were so unrelatable, it was hard to get fully immersed into the world that Fincher is normally so great at building. Gone Girl left me with a similar feeling as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is a movie referenced in another 10 things post from last year.

9) No one shags in a library after 3 years of a relationship

After 1095 days together, you’re lucky if you get your genitals get but a fleeting glance when you’re out with your other half, let alone being balls deep in a dark corner of a public library. I will suspend my disbelief for many things, but this is not one of them.

10) It’s just really not as good as people are claiming

All-in-all, the film was over two and a half hours long and after half an hour I was feeling frustrated and bored. The word flat has been used many times in this article to describe elements of this film and that’s exactly what the overall experience left me feeling. There was no excitement, intrigue or desire for any of the characters to succeed in anyway. Unlike Se7en, Zodiac or Fight Club, which are intense, thrilling and heaped with personality, Gone Girl is as grey as the colour palette it displays.

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7 replies

  1. I do agree with the first couple of points.

  2. Largely well argued although I don’t agree with much of it. I was hoping for more from Neil Patrick Harris in a non comedic role although the film didn’t provide him with much to work with, For the record my tongue was firmly in my mouth and nowhere near Mr Fincher’s bottom as I enjoyed the film.

    • I can’t help but feel that if Gone Girl was directed by anyone else, the film would not have the love it has right now. Although it does feel weird to be in such a drastic minority regarding this movie.. Thanks for not trolling us!

  3. I loved reading your thoughts about the movie, but wanted to respond to each of the 10 complaints you had bout about it. Not everyone has to love the same movie but Im glad you at least wrote down detailed reasons as to why rather then just say it sucked..(I Apologize about any grammar or spelling problemss)

    1. You mentioned that in when Amy kills Desi in the boook it’s from a woman who has little choice but in the movie she comes off as psycopath. Now I will agree that she enjoyes the act a bit too much. I still got the feeling from the movie that she had little choice. She was trapped inside that house with cameras all around. I thought he was going to attack her right away. Plus if she did go back , He would for sure follow her and give her away to the cops.

    2. I have never read the book, so I can’t compare, but the comic moments when used were used at the right times. Missi Pyle with her Nancy Grace persona. I loved the cop coplaining that Nick doesnt know his wife’s blood type, but when another cop asks if he should know what his wife’s is. She just laughs and tells him no. I laughed when Amy comes back to him and he whispers to her “You bitch”. Yes, it’s true that these characters may have made bad choices, but that doesn’t make them stupid.

    3. The three acts were done very well. The first Act is Nick’s version. The second act is Amy’s version, and the third is the real version. Never once did it fail because it managed to surprise and intrigue me with every new reveal. The first and the lost shot are the same thing, but both have very different meanings behind them

    4.Fincher was most likely trying to convey the same tone of the characters that were in the book. This has the same tone as Seven or even Zodiac, but had a lot more humorous moments then those ones.
    5. Rosemund Pike is really good, no scratch that she is amazing. It’s easy to pass her off as just another psycopathic bitch, but she is a lot more complex then that. Ben Affleck was great at being both a villian who could be the guy who can hurt people and as the victim to Amy. He is a guy that wants to be a media favorite but also who wants to be hidden from it.

    7.. Again I’m sure the book shows the two Amy’s very well, but I still feel that the movie did a good job at seperating the two. Nick falls in love with Cool girl Amy because she tells him what he likes to hear. This could have streched back to when she was a kid and people kept refering her to the character from the Amazing Amy books. SHe has constantly had to be on display for others. Because if she didn’t she feared that she would be alone. So she put on the facade like may people do and went along with the romance and it was good until she found out that Nick was cheating. All the things he told her, he was now telling a new girl. He was a liar and she has had enough with being the doting housewife any longer. Her plan was to get back at Nick for not being honest with her and most likely himself. He was a shallow prick who got what he deserved. Yet I wanted him to find a way out of it and when it’s revealed that he is forever trapped with Amy. I felt rewared in a way, because he is never going to do what he did ever again.

    8. I liked this one way more the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I felt that one was a little bit too long Zodiac is a great film but I never really got into that film the way I did this one, and that is I never found the characters to be fully interesting.In Gone Girl every single role is mesmerizing. Hell Even Tyler Perry puts in a good role, and I never thought I would say that about one of his movies.

    9. Maybe you haven’t but I know people who have. It wasn’t a library but it was some other public place. Having sex scenes in public places has been used in a lot of other movies. This shouldnt be a complaint about this one, but I can respect your thoughts on it.

    10. I never found it to be too long. The 2 and a 1/2 hours just flew by for me. Unlike Zodiac or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  4. By and large I agree. It’s nice to read some dissent and I read this a week ago but only saw the film earlier this evening. I also thought the acting was flat and I found myself getting irritated by it more and more. I’ve not yet thought it through, but I reckon it is vastly overrated.

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