Now Playing Review

Gone Girl goes wild

lars logoYEP YEP – When David Fincher makes a film, I pay retail to see it. He’s on my short list of filmmakers who get my attention every time they show up.

His latest effort, Gone Girl, showed up last week – and per usual for Fincher, it has everyone talking.

That’s almost always a good thing.

Is it a great film? To be lumped in alongside Seven,  Zodiac, or The Social Network? Not quite.

But it’s a wild ride worth taking, even if it goes off the rails somewhat.

Gone GirlMidway through Gone Girl I was sharpening my pencil to write up a glowing review of an impressively crafted film that uniquely navigates both perspectives of a domestic meltdown. An overly dramatic examination of a marriage gone awry, placing blame on both parties, leaving no one unbloodied.

But then…

Ah, just go see it. Punch your own ticket. It’s Fincher, after all. Complete with up-to-date and spot on commentary on today’s media; both their ravenous addiction to over-sensationalizing everything tragic, as well as their undeniable power to shape and manipulate public opinion.

I’d rather share with you my thoughts on the two lead actors.

Ben Affleck has come a long way.

Here is a theory you may not have read anywhere else: I say his acting took a turn when he played gloomy Superman icon George Reeves in the underrated 2006 HollywoodlandSomething about taking on the personae of a man who could not live up to his heroic onscreen image may just have resonated with the square-jawed Affleck, giving him permission to internalize his damaged, superficial post-Daredevil/Gigli ego.

Since ’06 he has become an award-winning, sure-handed director with an acting resume of notably understated and effective roles (The Town, Argo, now Gone Girl) that he breathed a relaxed, confident life in to. The posturing now gone. The desperate desire to appear heroic a thing of the past.

Way to go, Ben.

Rosamund Pike has never really grabbed me in anything. Until this turn. This sharp right angle. Now, I see the allure.

Her performance in Gone Girl is difficult to describe. Too much info here veers us in to spoiler alert territory. So, let’s just say her character lands somewhere in the murky psychotic waters between Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct.  Sexy, dark, sympathetic, intellectually stimulating stuff from an actress who might just be getting a phone call in February with a special invitation to the Oscars.

Now, I’m going to break “objective/subjective” form here and rave about a personal friend. I’m often tempted to single out artists who I have a rooting interest in, but have refrained in my past three years of film analysis for obvious reasons.

My long-time pal, Mark Atteberry, shows up in the third act of David Fincher’s Gone Girl as a concerned, semi-perplexed federal agent interviewing Pike’s “Amazing Amy.”

It’s a role that could have easily been a “throw away.” Relatively forgettable.  An emotionless, bureaucratic automaton getting “just the facts, ma’am” out of his subject.

But a veteran character actor as talented as Mark Atteberry knew well enough to seize the moment and help shape the scene. Like any good actor he chose to care about his character and the words he spews. To care about the person he is talking to. To maximize everything and throw away nothing.

Mark AAtteberry makes the most of every precious second on screen, making his federal agent an important emotional cog in the machinery of Fincher’s spiraling third act narrative.

Precious seconds well-earned by an actor who has paid attention to the details and stayed the course. The ownership of those seconds brought a big smile to this critic’s – this friend’s – grill.

Way to go, Mark.

3 thoughts on “Gone Girl goes wild

  1. One of my pet peeves is when (usually amateur) actors feel compelled to always turn to look at another character when he or she speaks. People don’t do that in real life; just because you’re not looking directly at another person doesn’t mean you’re not listening. But, of course, sometimes turning towards the sound of a person’s voice or a sound is exactly what people do, and as such it’s a perfectly viable choice for an actor.

    I’m a minutiae weirdo, and notice things most people don’t. There was a moment when Mark turns to the voice of Kim Dickens (forgot her character’s name) and then back to Amy when she speaks. A lesser-trained actor might do this in sharp, linear movements, but Mark’s were as smooth as a Chapman jib — oh-so smooth and elegant.

  2. Pingback: Best Films of 2014 | Lars Beckerman

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