Friday, November 28, 2014

A Conversation: "Gone Girl"

A few months ago Matt and I had a conversation about American Hustle and we thought it went pretty well.  We're fans of switching things up so we thought we'd try it again.  Unfortunately, schedules being what they are, there was a bit of a delay before we were able to get down to business.  Here is the (lightly trimmed) conversation.

As ever, watch out for SPOILERS:


Siobhan: I think we may have waited a little too long to do this.

Matt: Maybe--

S: It's not fresh in my mind....

M: No but what does stick in my mind is how good she was.  Rosamund Pike was just--

S: She was everything.

M: It makes me want to watch everything she's been in.

S: Yeah!  The thing is, she's one of those actors that I've seen in other things and I know her name and that I've seen her but I can't think of anything specific that she's been in.  Was she a Bond girl?

M: That sounds familiar [she totally was].  She was also in An Education with Kerry Mulligan.

S: Was she the other girlfriend that they hung out with?

M: Yes.  And she was very good in that.

S: Oh, right.  I had forgotten that.

M: Um, but Gone Girl was too long.

S: Oh yeah, hands down.  It was way too long.

M: It evolved into twist after twist, where I feel like they could have taken out some things.

S: It's true.  I mean, I liked the tone.  The pacing at the beginning it was quite good and at the the end was quite good but when put together it felt like they could have shifted it a little and made it more... sort of evenly spaced throughout.  So that both of those stories worked well and you didn't end up feeling like they'd spent too much time leading up to the climax?  It got to the point where every moment that she wasn't onscreen I was thinking, "I could be done with this now," and then she's come onscreen and I'd be like "Oh okay."

M: Yes! Like she electrified everything.

S: Right.  I mean I'd be in it for the minute or two that she was onscreen and then I'm out again.

M: Until that big twist comes when you realize what's actually going on, the movie feels like it's staggering a little.

S: Yup.

M: And then the twist happens and it ignites the film again, but now you've spent all that time waiting.  Something I find with TV and movies that have big guest stars: you know that these guest stars or secondary characters are going to play a pivotal role.  I mean why would they take this role--

S:  If there wasn't something important going on?

M: Right, so here's the beginning of the movie and Neil Patrick Harris is in the credits as a major supporting character.  Two thirds of the way through the movie, you know that the one scene that he's  been in for twenty seconds, is not going to be the only scene he's in.  And since you're already getting a little frustrated by the pacing, you're thinking, "Where does this fit in?"

S: Yeah. I think it had a lot to do with spending a bit too much time with Ben Affleck's character because he was what he needed to be, but he certainly could have been played by anybody.  And the interaction between him and his sister--who was great, the actress was great--was really well done.  That said, it felt like he was just a plot device more than anything else, which was unfortunate.  I think in the book, which is told from his point of view for a good chunk of it, he was far more compelling.  And yes, that happens when you translate a book from a movie but--

M: I think that's just his face.

S: [laughing]

M: He always looks a little dazed and confused.  And I will admit, for about half the movie I was distracted by his body, and not in a good way.

S: You know what it is, he's bulking up for Batman v. Superman I think.

M: The clothing was ill fitting, so you're watching things pull across his stomach like they don't fit.

S: Yeah, it was distracting.  Everyone else fit into their clothes and it fit the character and with him it felt like he should have been a little sloppier as an aging married guy, like he should have been less broad shouldered.

M: Agreed.  [pause] So I have to say, I have never really been super excited for David Fincher.

S: Really? I like his movies.

M:  Okay, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a waste.

S: Yeah, but that's because it wasn't the original.  I have no time for American remakes when they're not saying anything new about the story.  It's one thing to re-imagine something but it's entirely useless to me to remake a film because you don't want to watch subtitles.

M: I just feel like some of these notorious American 'auteurs'--

S: Don't necessarily have that much to offer?

M: No they have something to offer, but it's sort of like now he can make a movie as long as he wants it to be.  That editing doesn't need to be as tight and the movie gets to be two and a half hours, because, "That's his vision!"  It was forty minutes too long.

S: It for sure could have been tightened up a lot.  I mean I thought it opened really well but lost its way.  The hints they gave, and the script itself were very good, I was engaged.  But then again I like her writing, and she was adapting her own novel....

M: That's right and she did change certain things.

S: Yup.

M: I mean when you adapt your own novel you want to keep your story but change it just enough that those who love the story still have something unexpected.  

S: That's the thing, I feel like that's the major benefit to having the author adapt the story themselves, especially someone who's a strong writer like she is.  She was able to bring different aspects of the existing story to light as opposed to changing the plot points.  It's more about, 'what things can happen to show another angle to this character that I know so well?'  'What's something that I didn't get across in the book that I can get out in the movie that will make this interesting?'

M: Now I did like the script, but I feel like Amy's parents didn't fit.  They were so one-dimensional.  They were just distrusting and that was it.

S: The thing is, they were probably more of a point on which to turn the plot than anything else.  I would assume that they had a little more depth in the book but everyone understands overbearing parents, it's a pretty easy trope to get out so you don't have to worry about that, you can pull back without losing anything major and focus on the more important relationships.

M: I feel like what I take away from the movie is just Rosamund Pike.  The movie was just so much better with her onscreen.

S: Yeah, I really thing that if it hadn't been her, or someone who could turn in that powerful a performance like her then the movie would have crashed and burned.

M: I just hope that this is the point at which she starts getting better roles because she can handle it.

S: I feel that way about Lupita Nyong'o.  I mean I haven't seen any casting news for her since 12 Years A Slave and she wasn't even in the movie that much it just felt like--

M: Let's mark this moment.

S: Yes!  Like, "This is important.  What will they do next?"  I mean that's the thing with some of these amazing roles it's a little like, they actors drop off the radar.  Like, Lupita's going to be in Star Wars next?  What?! [Incidentally she's going to be in Star Wars AND the Jungle Book].

M: Right, but what has Natalie Portman done since being in Star Wars?

S: Um, Black Swan was pretty big that's true.  [a.k.a. she won an Oscar] Actually, she's been trying to get this movie off the ground for like years and years.  No one wants to be in it with her, they keep leaving, I think it's called Jane's Got a Gun.  Everytime she has a co-star they just leave.

M: [laughing] Well not everyone can be Tilda Swinton and just do whatever they want cause they're perfect.

S: F*****g Tilda Swinton.  There are no words for Tilda Swinton; who doesn't call herself an actress.

M: The funniest thing about Tilda Swinton is that on her reddit AMA, they started to refer to her by the punctuation mark, the ~ and she would then self-reference herself as the ~.

S: That's amazing.  That's like the sort of name you want to give your kid just so their teacher has to try to figure out how to pronounce it.

M: She disarms you but not in a way that makes you comfortable.

S: No.  Not even a little.  Her first role that I remember was the Ice Queen in The Chronicles of Narnia so yeah, discomforting for sure.  [pause]  So coming back to the movie at hand for a sec, I do think Gone Girl was good,  It was everything I wanted it to be but it was just a little too long.

M: Yes, I did really enjoy it.  I liked the aesthetic of the movie--

S: Yes, it was beautiful to look at.

M: --it was very well done, it was filmed in a way that was really alluring.  But like we keep saying: it was too long.  I mean, think about the moment when he's about to be interviewed for the morning show and they're just waiting and waiting.  I'm there thinking, "Cut this scene!"  It's not making me feel any differently to anyone or anything that's going on.

S: I think it was meant to be the moment where you want him to succeed and you start to feel more connected to him but I honestly don't think he played it well enough for it work.  I was more connected to Tyler Perry in that scene than I was to him.  I'm thinking, "Yeah Tyler Perry, throw things at his head!  Teach him how to be a man! Let's do it!"

M: [laughing]

S: I mean overall I think the performances were all quite good.  But, no one's going to say she isn't the reason the film is good.  Take Rosamund Pike out of the film and it's not--it's nothing.  And not just because of the role she plays in the plot line.  

M: No, she's a pivotal character, but more importantly it's a pivotal performance.  She's so necessary.


So it seems we've come to quite a few conclusions (even after having gotten a little off topic:
  •  overall that the film is worth seeing, if only for Rosamund Pike's performance
  • while much too long, the solid performances and aesthetics count for a lot 
  • the script was pretty solid but the pacing was iffy
  • Ben Affleck was just there
  • really famous actors shouldn't be listed in the opening credits if their part is integral to the plot
  • ~ Swinton is the be all, end all
We're giving this one a 3.5 out of 4.

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