Friday, October 10, 2014

'Gone Girl' - David Fincher's Social Critique

"As a director, film is about how you dole out the information so that the audience stays with you when they're supposed to stay with you, behind you when they're supposed to stay behind you, and ahead of you when they're supposed to stay ahead of you." -- David Fincher

It's so good to see a storyteller like David Fincher achieve popular success without chucking away the thought and artistry that make movies more than just memorable - his films almost haunt you and refuse to dissipate. His newest movie, "Gone Girl", is imminently a marketing dream (best-selling novel, hot topic actors), but troubling, provocative under-currents stream all through the show.

His other films, "The Social Network", "Se7en", "Zodiac", "Fight Club", "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and his TV series "House of Cards" - are careful, meticulous compositions that blend the images, words and sounds into something far more than the sum of their parts. It's a hell of a critique on modern times.

There's a panic-filled America on display. Institutions (business, marriage, class structure, school, judicial systems, finance, journalism, politics) are craggy, crumbling and crippled and still must be negotiated, traveled and endured. The only thing more dislocative than being inside these edifices is to be without them. Fincher nails this eroding world expertly:

"Gone Girl explodes marriage,” says Rebecca Traister. “And it explodes precisely the one kind of marriage that is still idealized, between white, urban sophisticated people that meet in mid-life. There are many marriage models out there but this is the one that is still viewed aspirationally:   between white, beautiful, privilege educated New Yorkers. That is the picture of marriage that is sold to us, the one we all must desire. And that is the one the book vandalises. So there is a subversive argument being advanced about marriage in the film, that it's not an institution that can tame women any longer."

From Gillian Flynn's novel, "Gone Girl": 

"It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. . . . You know the awful singsong of the blase: Seeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: the secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script."

And there's still enormous amounts of wit and satire, a sense of the playful amid the horror show of the current age. "Gone Girl" likewise challenges perceptions - and makes box office bucks too. 

His approach to "Gone Girl". Another recent interview here.

"Anybody looking outside themselves to make themselves whole is delusional and probably sick." - David Fincher