Sunday, October 5, 2014
Photo: Gone Girl's movie poster, from its Wikipedia site
I'd been looking forward to this one for a long time. Gillian Flynn writes dark, edgy things, and I like reading dark, edgy things. (I write those, too, especially my novels.) And David Fincher directed it, and he's a very dark, edgy guy who makes very, very dark, edgy movies.
And Gone Girl did not disappoint. It is very dark, very edgy, very well-acted and very well-directed.
What else can you ask for?
I haven't read the book, but being a cynic and pessimist, I was right there with the movie until about 90% of the way through. If you're as much of a cynic as I am, not much of what actually happens here will surprise you, though how it's shown will impress you. The horrific nature of some people, and of the media, and of the guy's neighbors, etc. will also not surprise you, though you may, like I did, be surprised at how well it's shown.
Neighbors will smile and wave, then want to shoot you, then smile and wave at you again. Check. (Though, seriously, my actual neighbors are wonderful.)
The media will crucify you, then show the truth--if you're lucky enough to be vindicated by it. And then the media will put you in front of a camera and ask, "How are you feeling now that..." Check.
Everyone in the known universe will use your image, and your tragedy, to make a buck for themselves. This includes your in-laws, your family, your friends and neighbors. Check.
The real purpose of this movie was to thrill and surprise, of course. But, like the book, it is not satisfied to do just that. It shoots arrows (and hits the targets) at the media, at the masses as herd mentality, and at the fickle nature of people in general--though I feel this has a particular target setting on the American media, and of the American masses.
And it succeeds at doing this as well. I was reminded of this today while watching Meet the Press. (Cuz I'm super-exciting and super-awesome like that.) The news guy kept asking questions like, "Is America ready for this Ebola outbreak?" though, of course, there has yet to be an Ebola outbreak in America. Luckily, the guy from the CDC stood his ground, did not give in to this gambit that was tried on him at least three times, and maintained that--although there have been a few Americans currently in American hospitals with Ebola--the American victims contracted the virus in Africa. As of this typing, they have not transmitted it to anyone else in America after they got here.
This Meet the Press guy, who knows better but who is clearly trying to make a name for himself (and who perhaps wants to marry his brand-new set), then asked if America has the resources to battle a flu epidemic and an Ebola epidemic. The CDC guy reminded him again that there is not an Ebola epidemic in this country, but that, yes, America is ready for such an epidemic, if it hits. He stressed that he didn't think one would, especially not as seen in Africa right now. He did not, but probably should have, pointed out that the flu virus and the Ebola virus are, of course, two completely different things, and would therefore have two different responses. One gives you a fever and a couple of days of aches and pains, while the other gives you a fever in the middle triple-digits, and then makes you bleed out of your pores and crash and burn, and it may also liquify your organs if left totally untreated. So, yes, these are two completely different viruses, as different as, say, the common cold, which is a virus, and HIV / AIDS, which is also a virus. Read the show's transcript here. The Ebola part happens first, so you won't have to read the whole thing.
:::Slight digression::: People need to now be aware of what viruses are. And they need to learn this on their own, or from medical experts, and NOT---I REPEAT, NOT--from the media. Because the media doesn't know, or really care, what it is. My biggest fear now is that the masses will be herding in a panic to their nearest hospitals when they get any kind of cold, or flu, or sinus infection, or headache, or whatever, and this actually will exhaust the resources of our medical professionals so that they can't treat any take-care-of-it-now Ebola case that may come along. And then--boom--contagion. And spread. It's like how people flood the 911 lines because their Big Macs are cold, and so the person calling because he's having a heart attack can't get through. (Yes, this actually happens all the time.)
The Meet the Press guy was clearly trying to hit the panic button, purposely exaggerating and deliberately misreporting the news, and for what? Ratings, of course. And some popularity for himself. Too many "news" channels and "news" programs these days.
But I digress. Or do I? Because that's what Gone Girl shows: the sensationalistic American (and worldwide?) media today. It outrages and it misreports and it misleads, and does so purposely, for ratings. But this wouldn't be possible if the American (worldwide?) masses didn't fall for it each and every damned time, like the mindless masses and herd mentality experts that we are. Like, there were no WMDs in Iraq, and the mission has not, in fact, been accomplished.
Gone Girl shows all of this as well. It may seem like it's digressing from its main plot of a marriage gone bad, or of a woman who may have been kidnapped and / or murdered, but stay the course, because it's all part of the same rollercoaster ride, with all its loops and turns.
Ben Affleck, who knows some things about media-gone-crazy, and Rosamund Pike (who I've very quietly loved since her James Bond film, and who turns in a career-defining performance here) excel in their roles. They are brave casting choices, which Fincher excels at--see: Rooney Mara--but they are also good choices. Affleck really has been through this all before, and in this movie, he looks it. Rosamund Pike hasn't, but she does have the icy steel, the frozen beauty and intelligence, that her role desperately needs. Tyler Perry out-Cochranes Johnny Cochrane, and Carrie Coon may steal the show as Affleck's sister, the one and only rock in his life.
So, yeah, go see this. Even if you're married. And, afterwards, you may want to think twice before you intentionally piss off your spouse. (Not that anyone would actually do that.)
And you might want to question the American press and the rumor-mongerers as well.
Have you seen the movie or read the book (or both)? What'd you think?