Cinéaste 001: Gone Girl

Ever since I started Bramble & Thorn in September 2014, I've been meaning to write more about film, music, and literature. I have done so already here and there, but I'd really like to make it a regular thing - particularly with film. And that where the idea of Cinéaste popped into my mind.  

(A cinéaste is the term used to refer to those with a passionate interest in cinema, film theory and film criticism, and can be used interchangeably with the word cinephile.)

So: every Sunday night I'm hoping to post a little bit of a review of whatever film I think you should all see. Now, I'm not going to start throwing out recommendations for black and white Japanese films from the 1940's at you straight away, but I will try and introduce a couple of titles here and there that you may be unfamiliar with. With that, let's take a look at my first recommendation.

Title: Gone Girl
Synopsis: With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris

2014 was the year of Gone Girl. Everyone was talking about it (both the film and book), and both received almost unanimous praise. In some instances, this can be off-putting. Not here. The film absolutely lived up to the high standard set by author Gillian Flynn, which may in part be due to the fact that she also wrote the screenplay. I myself listed Gone Girl as my 4th best film of 2014.

The less you know about the film, the better. I won't give anything away here, but trust me when I say that the twist and turns of the plot are both unexpected and brilliant. On the surface, Gone Girl may seem superficial, even obvious: an All-American housewife (Amy, Rosamund Pike) goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, while her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) becomes the prime suspect after one blunder after the other. However, there is something much more sinister and complex at work here, which is utterly fascinating to see unfold.

The story is presented through two narratives: Nick, in real time; and Amy, telling her story through a series of old diary entries. This method of storytelling is used incredibly effectively in Gone Girl, providing a stark contrast between the two characters as well as a a prime example of the unreliable narrator. Additionally, the casting of Affleck and Pike was nothing short of a stroke of genius. Affleck plays the relatable, charming, insincere Nick perfectly; however it is Pike's take on Amy that absolutely stole the movie, with her Oscar nomination surely in the bag.

David Fincher's direction is, as always, without fault. His aesthetic is all over this film, aided in part by teaming up once again with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the soundtrack (for those playing at home, they have scored other Fincher films The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). Everything from the cinematography to the lighting is impeccable. As a testament to Fincher's attention to detail, on set one day Ben Affleck changed the lens setting on a camera an almost indiscernible amount, betting a crew member that Fincher wouldn't notice. "But goddammit if he didn't say, 'Why does the camera look a little dim?'"

It's hard to review this film without delving into certain plot points. All I can say is, please watch it, and again, please do so before you are spoiled on certain details. It's an incredible experience and I have rewatched it numerous times since I saw it in theatres last year.