Eli Hayes’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don't even want to review this film.
I really don't. But fuck it, I have to.
It's rare for a film to leave me totally hopeless and frightened at the prospect of the future by the time I reach its final moments, and yet still be highly entertaining, clever, sardonic, hilarious and relatively absurd throughout its entire runtime. The last film to have such an immensely personal effect on my psyche was Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut which I saw for the first time over this previous summer, and interestingly enough the parallels between these two films aren't hard to spot, both of them being unsparing, satirical critiques of the institution of marriage. Fincher has crafted here what I believe to be his most complete masterpiece yet; I'm an enormous fan of Zodiac, The Social Network, Fight Club and so on, but no Fincher flick has impressed me this greatly with regard to its mercilessly witty commentary on society and interpersonal relationships.
I love the way that this man directs his actors. There's a rapid pace to the dialogue that you can always find in a Fincher flick, or at the very least, his most recent films, and here he supplements this rapid pace with a incessant amount of sarcasm that seems to read as, "yes, I know that the events of this film are exaggerated and unlikely, and I know that you know it too, but that's what you're going to get because I'll be damned if reality isn't just as over-the-top in other ways; we're mocking you, we're poking fun at your flaws - you, everyone, you." And I didn't mind being poked fun at by a film with so much to say.
The editing here is incredible. The man is such a precise editor... I can almost see him sitting down with Kirk Baxter and Gillian Flynn and arranging her screenplay as if one would arrange a puzzle, shifting scenes before and after one another until the order is perfected; he treats his narrative fiction dramas with the attention to detail in terms of arrangement that non-fiction filmmakers treat their documentaries with. The non-linearity of this film is an example of perfecting abstract filmmaking to the point that Gone Girl may very well be one of the most flawlessly paced film I have ever seen.
What is there to say about the cinematography?
Do Fincher's films ever look mediocre?
Do they ever look merely good?
No, they always look absolutely stunning.
Thank you, Jeff Cronenweth, for taking simplicity and using hue & framing to make it so beautiful:
Can't forget this:
More striking stills will find their way to the internet after the film gets a little bit more international theater time, but still...
HOW ARE YOUR FILMS ALWAYS LIT SO WELL DAVID HOW
You can take a look at just those four (almost randomly selected) stills and already see a well-defined color scheme shine through!
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, you sly dogs. Damn, guys. I usually never go out and buy the scores to films, but I don't think that I have a choice here. The ambient beauty that your score adds to the film's dark, brooding atmosphere contrasts the humor in such a way that everything seems to blend perfectly. There are certain films in which music is not a necessity... or certain parts of film, at least - say, for instance, the "raid sequence" in the 2012 film, Zero Dark Thirty. This film requires the hypnotic yet almost psychotic presence of Reznor & Ross' score just as much as ZDT's raid sequence requires the absence of music to compliment its realism. I don't think that I've ever described a work of aural art as psychotic before (aside from possibly a few Radiohead tracks, like A Wolf at the Door) but the way that their music embodies what seems to be going on inside the antagonists' mind is out of this world. It's like a musical manifestation of delusions.
Flynn's script is (edit: should have been) an absolute shoe-in for a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination... it's one of the most unique works of screenwriting I've come across in some time, not necessarily because of the dialogue within, but because of the structure, which reminded me of Steve McQueen's Hunger and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey in the sense that the film never remains "the same" for too long. It's constantly growing and exploring new directions and finding ways to keep the audience on the edge of their seats for the entirety of the 150 minute runtime, which never feels a minute too long. It baffles me how people like Gillian Flynn and say, Vince Gilligan & his team of writers (to draw a loose comparison) can come up with these once-in-a-lifetime strokes of genius, intricately crafted and socially significant narratives, from start to finish. I can only dream of creating a story anywhere near as well thought out as this one - it would take years, maybe even an entire decade.
But one simply cannot discuss Gone Girl without being (understandably and) excessively complimentary toward Rosamund Pike's performance as Amy Dunne... don't get me wrong, Ben Affleck was great at playing a sort of incessantly unrealized and intentionally flat character, someone difficult for the audience to empathize with due to our lack of understanding of his motivations; he's great at that. But Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne is this film. Hands down one of my very favorite female performance of the year thus far. Unfortunately, I can't give away what is so absorbing about Pike's performance without delving into spoiler territory regarding her character, so you're just going to have to see it for yourself.
You're going to have to see it all for yourself.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I didn't really want to write anything about Gone Girl... because I don't think that words can do a film like this justice. It's something that must be seen, heard, personally encountered.
It's one of the very best films of 2014, and it very well may be David Fincher's greatest film to date. He has solidified himself as one of the contemporary masters (hell, he had already done that prior to this film's release), as as Amazing as this was, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up topping it with his next cinematic construction. I'll be eagerly waiting.