Before this week, the last film I saw in a large public cinema (or movie theater as I am now wont to call it – and yes, spelt that way, too; I am SO American these days) was The Hangover (the first one) in Century City in LA.
I bought the biggest burger and drink from the enormous Food Court and relaxed in a seat that was the size of my apartment’s living room.
I then laughed non-stop for the whole movie, as did everyone else. I could not remember a time I had laughed quite so much (well, not unless I counted reading my own columns, anyway). For days afterwards, I was still laughing.
Although, as a member of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), I receive all movies free for voting purposes, I decided this week to go to the real thing once more. The hype surrounding Girl Gone had been huge, as were the opening weekend sales, and, having loved director David Fincher’s The Social Network, was prepared to be massively impressed.
Just as I did in The Hangover, I cried throughout: not tears of joy, however, but tears of boredom. And then tears of fear – had I been kidnapped and was I being held against my will and, as in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, being subjected to something I would never be able to escape? In Waugh, the victim is the character Tony being held by a Mr Todd, who forces him to read Dickens to him – FOR EVER! In Gone Girl, it is . . . well, what is it? I’ll come to that shortly, but let’s say that my third batch of tears were ones of joy as I finally escaped the darkness, both literally and metaphorically and emerged into the light outside the Lowes movie theatre.
Never has real life looked or felt so good. I went to Whole Foods and spent half an hour working out what I could have bought there for the $15 I had just wasted at the movies (only three things, as it happened, but still preferable).
For those who have yet to see Gone Girl (and who, heaven forbid, will still want to after reading this?), and who haven’t read the book, I won’t reveal the essentials, but will talk in generalities.
Leaving aside my feeling that Ben Affleck in one of the leads, Nick, is about as underwhelming (to me) as a frozen kipper, it’s a mess of a movie. Rosamund Pike, the other lead, Amy (no fish comparisons intended, by the way), is very good, but it’s impossible to empathise with either character, and if you don’t know who you’re rooting for in a movie, for me it’s over before it’s begun.
The catalyst of the movie, the moment that changes everything and leads it in a different direction, is even more underwhelming than Mr Affleck. It should be a real “WOW! I didn’t see that coming” movie moment, but I’ve had more excitement brushing my teeth, to be honest.
Then there is the issue of Ms Pike’s weight gain within minutes; the cat that never gets fed (yet never loses weight); the reactions of all the key characters to the central plot i.e. the girl that is gone (although, hardly a girl, quite frankly).
The police at the heart of the operation are hopeless; the Sesame Street Cops would have delved more deeply into the evidence. There is way too much repetition, during which we receive the same information, either visually or verbally several times over. The ending is incomprehensible on one essential fact that is supposed to be the other WOW! moment that winds the whole thing up after a staggering 149 minutes. There is not a jot of it that is remotely believable – neither was E.T. literally, but I believed it emotionally – either in terms of plot, characters, or human behaviour. It’s tosh for the masses.
It is as if they changed directors (and, at times, writers) every 15 minutes, never quite getting to grips with what kind of movie they wanted it to be (apart from one that made a lot of money by pulling the wool over the general public’s eyes). The hype surrounding it really is a case of Emperor’s new clothes, and its popularity can only be down to the problem of there being so little out there at the moment – and, in Hollywood, there hasn’t been for some time (though I absolutely LOVED The Hundred-Foot Journey, which I saw in a small private cinema).
Critics who try to analyse Gone Girl in terms of its post modernism and insight into coupledom are, quite frankly, too fearful of shouting out “The King is in the all together!”
Ms Pike will doubtless receive an Oscar nomination, and the film will make it onto the Best Adapted Screenplay list; but Best Movie? Dear lord, I hope not.
It is, alas, 149 minutes I will never get back. Gone Girl?
Going, going, gone girl - forever, I hope.