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25. Gone Girl (#179)

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s…

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, David Fincher’s Gone Girl.

On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne is shocked to discover that his wife Amy has disappeared. As local law enforcement begin their investigation, all clues seem to point towards Nick. But all is not as it appears to be.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 179th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.



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Non-Review Review: The Girl on the Train

What would you get if you tried to produce Gone Girl without David Fincher?

It is a tough question to answer, given Fincher’s style is an integral part of the film. It is impossible to divorce Gone Girl from Fincher’s steady cam shots and clinical framing. However, The Girl on the Train still makes a valiant attempt to answer. Whatever about the source material, the adaptation of The Girl on the Train is monomaniacally fixated upon that pulpy breakout psychological thriller, constructing another gaslighting murder investigation in desaturated terms to an electronic score that cannot help but evoke the work of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

A pale reflection.

A pale reflection.

However, director Tate Taylor is no David Fincher. Fincher keenly understood the pulpy absurdity of his source material, playing into the ridiculousness of layered twists and double-bluffs that reimagined marriage as some sort of long-form psychological warfare. Taylor fundamentally misunderstands the tone of his film, pitching the forced coincidences and crazy revelations of The Girl on the Train as something to be taken entirely seriously. Gone is the irony that made Gone Girl so effective, replaced with an ill-advised earnestness that refuses to blink.

The problem is not that The Girl on the Train comes off the rails as the overly elaborate details of its storytelling world come into focus. The problem is that it doesn’t nearly enough momentum to reach its destination.

A trained observer.

A trained observer.

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My 12 for ’14: Gone Girl and the most $£@!ed up people…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

Gone Girl is a surprisingly playful film.

David Fincher is a director who likes to play with his audience, constructing elaborate and stylish labyrinths that might trap the audience as easily as they trap his characters. Gone Girl plays to Fincher’s strengths, as Gillian Flynn adapts her best-selling novel into a pulpy thriller. The news that Fincher and Flynn would collaborate on HBO’s Utopia is fantastic, giving television viewers something to anticipate; one hopes that the collaboration might be as fruitful as that enjoyed by Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Joji Fukunaga on True Detective this year.


Gone Girl is a story about stories. Most particularly, it is the story of two people fighting to control their own narratives; to try to steer the stories being told around them. Is Nick Dunne a loving husband desperately searching for his missing wife? Or is Nick Dunne a sociopath desperately trying to cover-up her murder? Is Amy Dunne an innocent victim who has worked her way into the heart of the American public? Or is Amy Dunne a manipulative and ruthless (and ruthless) cynic who has helped to turn her marriage into a perpetual struggle?

Gone Girl is a very sleek and stylish film that is lovingly crafted and wryly self-aware. It is a horror story about a dysfunctional marriage, a tale about media fascination and a black comedy about resentment and revenge. More than that, it is a puzzle that competes against the audience, a story that seems to change form at any point where the viewer might finally have come to grips with what they are watching.


Note: This “best of” entry includes spoilers for Gone Girl. You should probably go and see the movie, because everybody is talking about it. Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you. Still there? Good. Let’s continue. Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Gone Girl

The stories that people tell.

In many respects, Gone Girl is a story about narratives. It is a film about how we construct and manage our own narratives, and the narratives of those around us. Facts are malleable, reality is arbitrary. Everything that happens exists as a detail to be woven into some sort of story. Inevitably, stories differ, narratives conflict. The story that Nick Dunne tells about the disappearance of his wife differs from the version of events presented in her diary; the narrative that the public and the press construct is rather distinct from that constructed by those inside the story.


Gone Girl itself plays with this idea, playing with the audience. It starts out as a very familiar and almost cliché story. Nick Dunne was trapped in a loveless marriage. His wife disappears. People begin to suspect that perhaps Dunne had something to do in the disappearance. Even the audience isn’t entirely sure what to make of Nick as the details add up against him. The closer we look, the more flaws begin to appear, the more the evidence seems to mount.

And then, the story changes. Gone Girl pulls the rug out for underneath the audience, becoming something radically different and almost surreal. It’s a dazzling, brilliant, crazy, ambitious and ingenious. Gone Girl is a startlingly confident twisty film that plays with the audience with a macabre glee that is contagious.


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