In a way, “Gone Girl” could be considered the ultimate David Fincher film — even if it’s far from the director’s best. Ironically, the director’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s tawdry, much-beloved airport novel ends up touching on a great many of his preferred themes and motifs, among them, deception (“The Game”), physical and emotional violence (“Se7en”), media frenzy (“The Social Network”), and the power of the unreliable narrator (“Fight Club”). The result is alternately a black-as-night comedy about a marriage in freefall, a scathing critique of modern true-crime celebrity, and another slick, gloomy thriller in the Fincher wheelhouse — and sometimes it’s all three of these things at once.
Throughout “Gone Girl,” Fincher constantly repeats certain shots in the same location, using his doubling — of locations, events, and bits of dialogue — to create a disorienting sense of the uncanny. A film like this will live and die on its twist and turns, and its ability to upend an audience’s expectations. Thankfully, Fincher is a brilliant filmmaker who knows exactly what his audience wants, even if he doesn’t always feel like giving it to them. The use of doubling in “Gone Girl” turns out to be an ideal narrative tactic for a story that’s mainly preoccupied with people’s differing recollections of certain events. And a brief supercut titled “Back Again” allows us to dig a bit deeper into the black heart of “Gone Girl”.
The video is cut to Ben Affleck’s narration that opens the film, where he describes smashing his wife’s skull open and “unspooling her brains” for the sake of his own curiosity. Indeed, Fincher returns to many of the same shots and set-ups throughout the film, often employing the perspectives of different characters. It’s a neat bit of deconstruction, although those who haven’t yet seen “Gone Girl” may prefer to head into the film cold. And for those who’ve seen the film, the fact that it begins and ends with practically the same shot — distinguished by one crucial difference (hint: look at lead actress Rosamund Pike’s facial expression) — is telling. I would argue that “Gone Girl” is ultimately a deeper and more morally complicated film then its detractors might suggest, even if a lot of the criticisms lobbed at it are valid. In any case, “Back Again” will certainly appeal to Fincher fanatics, of whom there are no shortage. Watch the minute-and-a-half clip below. [Live For Films]