Samstag, 4. Oktober 2014

Gone Girl

David Fincher's "Gone Girl" starts off rather rockily but recovers in a significantly better second half to deliver a more than worthy adaptation of Gillian Flynn's manipulative, coarsely satisfying bestseller. By no means among Fincher's finest work, it's nevertheless a fast-paced, sleekly-executed marital thriller that earns extra points for daring to go to some pretty ugly places.

Staying perhaps detrimentally faithful to the book, the movie is immediately hampered by having to cover too much ground using a more print-friendly parallel narrative structure. The result is something very talky, densely edited and constantly jumping back and forth in time/perspective. While it never gets confusing or less than intriguing as the stage is set for a suspicious missing person's case, there's no room left for the scenes to breathe and brew, so a thicker atmosphere of mystery that memorably shrouded such gems as "Se7en" or "Zodiac" never comes to be. In fact, some rapid-fire exchanges here are so sped up they leave the realm of believability and seem like a parody of themselves. The efficient but unexciting practicality of the approach further extends to the sunny, sober photography unusual for a Fincher film. Coupled with the bland beauty of the two leads Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, kept rightfully impenetrable but still very much insipid, and you've got a first half that feels stuffed, even less convincing than its imperfect source material.

If the set-up isn't quite the knock-out, the pay-off, essentially the entire last 75 minutes of the film, aces it. In swift, smoothly practiced motions the evil scheme is revealed right away. But instead of losing steam from the extraction of suspense, you get the sense the movie only now comes alive with the air suddenly spiked with diabolism. The pressing tempo also starts to make sense as the stakes become clear and every passing second a lost opportunity to turn the mind game around. Both Pike and Affleck benefit from acting off other players and the strong suporting cast finally gets something to do here. Neil Patrick Harris plays successfully against type and stands out as the creepily affectionate ex-lover. Sela Ward has but one scene but shows how effective she can be portraying the robotically, viciously pretty. Even Tyler Perry turns out to be a decent casting choice, tuning down his hysterical on-screen persona to bring a mild voice of reason to the mess.

The editing and scoring of the film both come from frequent Fincher collaborators but, as solid as they are, seem comparatively uninspired. Even without feeling as rhythmically immaculate or sounding as fiercely magnetic as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" or "The Social Network", though, this movie flies by in a heartbeat. And especially in that ending, where the characters each harbor their own calculations and are mutually protected/trapped by the lies and false intentions of the other, it improves tremendously on the book's affectedness through vivid visualization.

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