For those of you who have read my blog in the past you may be surprised to see I’m reviewing a film that isn’t 75 years old, or even 40, or even 20. In fact, my review today is of a new release still currently in theaters and probably will be for some time.
David Fincher’s Gone Girl, adapted by Gillian Flynn from her novel, is a mystery thriller and every mystery thriller, good or bad, deserves the opportunity to present its twists and turns unspoiled. So I will keep this review spoiler free. Read on without fear!
A friend of mine described Gone Girl as the greatest Lifetime movie he’d ever seen. The only thing that sets this apart from the cable network’s usual fare is the execution. You can read his entire post here. Like just about everything on his blog, it’s definitely worth your time.
At first I felt this was unfair, or at least a backhanded compliment (and for all I know that’s how he meant it). But the more I think about it the more I would like to take that sentiment and run with it.
First I need to lay the foundation and provide my working definition of “Lifetime movie.” While the Lifetime network airs a number of different genres of original films, there is a certain recurring theme that I must assume keeps popping up because it does well on the network.
Gone Girl fits that bill. I’m going to pull right from IMBD to give you the 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.
Now here’s the synopsis from the Lifetime website for their movie A Killer Upstairs.
When a wealthy businesswoman is murdered, the evidence points to a man whose mother begins her own investigation into the murder.
They’re obviously not the same plot, but let’s just say they’re cut from the same cloth.
Why have you probably never heard of A Killer Upstairs but Gone Girl will make well over $100 million and be nominated for 5 or 6 Oscars? The execution. Rev. Hollywood is right on the money.
But think of it in these terms.
We have had more than our fair share of bad comic book superhero movies in recent years. Fantastic Four, Superman III, IV and Returns, Daredevil, everything with the words Spider-Man on it. Take your pick. But those weak efforts shouldn’t hinder the making of movies like Iron Man, The Dark Knight, X-Men: Days of Future Past or any of the other excellent comic book superhero movies we’re seen in of late. And it shouldn’t cast them in a bad light. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t wear the stink of Howard the Duck. And if you’ve seen Guardians that’s an especially fun reference.
When I saw The Avengers I thought, “Now THAT’S how you do a comic book movie!” In the same way I can point at Gone Girl and say, “Now THAT’S how you do a Lifetime movie!” The genre really needs a good name, just something without the word “Lifetime” would be helpful.
It’s not just comic book movies. You can do the same with westerns, film noir, romantic comedies, buddy cop movies, every genre has its Star Wars and its Starcrash.
Go see this movie (Gone Girl, not Starcrash). It’s outstanding. My caveat is that the subject matter is very rough and the R rating is for real. But through it all is some very deft direction. Maybe Fincher’s best work. House of Cards has helped him better develop characters I think.
The story is really well crafted. And I really only have one complaint. In the interested of remaining spoiler free I’ll just say it has to do with the discovery of a piece of evidence and, in my mind, the questionable decision on what to do with it. Boy, that’s so vague I’m not even sure what I’m referring to now.
Here might be the best endorsement for any film. Those I know who read the book and then saw the movie think the movie is actually better. That’s fairly rare.
I suspect this will be nominated for picture, director, actress and adapted screenplay along with some technical categories for sure. Affleck might get a nom but it looks like the field be the odd man out in a very strong field. Plus, the October release date could push him just out of the Academy voters’ short-term memory.
Speaking of Oscars, tis the season so I’ll probably be writing about more current releases that the classic film kick I’ve been on of late. The next couple of months have a full slate of Oscar hopefuls. It’s my favorite time of the year.