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Film Review: Gone Girl


18 (149 min)
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
American | 2014

Gone Girl is David Fincher’s latest piece, adapted for screen by Gillian Flynn from her book of the same name. When a much loved local woman Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing, suspicions of murder arise and all eyes turn to her husband Nick (Ben Affleck).

Gone Girl is by no means a flawless movie. Having not read the book, I cannot judge on how true it stayed to the source material. But at nearly two and a half hours, I’m guessing it didn’t leave much out. Similarly, smashing Hollywood barriers by showing a woman receiving oral sex and having Affleck’s best-friend character being his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) leads me to believe that the film didn’t conform to studio norms. If it did, it would have probably been a two parter because, as I said before, this film is really long.

Of course, it’s not as long as epics such as The Wolf of Wall Street or The Deer Hunter, but it does feel longer. This is largely due to the twist being revealed half way through the film, changing the dynamic of it completely, and rendering it almost impossible to talk about without spoiling…

Despite the films length, each scene was an integral cog in the overall machine and, although it churned slowly along, each piece was as every bit important to the end product as the last. Gone Girl injects enough suspense in the first half that it stays coursing through your veins for the remainder; the set up is enough to retain your interest and keep you absorbed in the film’s twisted world

The way Fincher picks up the intricacies of the actors and the environments is something to be celebrated. We as the audience pick up on things in the film that may or may not be important to working out ‘whodunnit’, like picking your favourite sweet out of a Haribo mix. We are blinkered, looking beyond the environment around them, but without them being shoved in our face with glaring signs and bells attached. However, it doesn’t mean we don’t see everything else. We can simultaneously take in the pale beauty of Gone Girl, while inspecting it through a magnifying glass.

The film’s editor, Kirk Baxter (Benjamin Button, The Social Network) should also be commended. Flashbacks mingle with the present day, weaving in-and-out of one-another at different rates throughout the film, becoming a ‘clue’ within themselves.

I cannot talk about the actors performances without giving too much away, but both provide a startling realism in their depictions of two very flawed individuals. Initially I thought the opposite, but as the film progressed… Well, that would be surely saying too much now, wouldn’t it?

The film is multilayered within its narrative and what it feeds the audience, slowly building upon itself. The tone of the film reminded me of Fargo; it’s balance between humour and thrills provided by Detective Boney (Kim Dickens), the sure-handed direction, even the colour palette. Although Gone Girl doesn’t quite hold up to the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece, it’s an enjoyable, savagely well made film that deserves a watch.


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Film Review: Le Jour se léve (Daybreak)

jour-de-F
PG (92 min)
Director: Marcel Carné
Cast: Jean Gabin, Jacqueline Laurent, Arletty
French | 1939 | Subtitles

If Michael Bay films are 90 minutes of action sequences strung together by dialogue spewed out of a random word generator, then Marcel Carné’s Le Jour Se Léve (Daybreak) is the antithesis of these movies.

Le Jour Se Léve is a painting, its brush strokes: the words of writer Prevert. His mastery of the written medium creates a tapestry, woven in the poetic discourse between lovers and rivals.

The subject matter is held in great stead by the talented hand of Carné, and it is easy to see why Le Jour Se Léve is considered by some to be his masterpiece. Although the film is a work of realism, the direction preempts the form of the American noir that would boom in the following decade. Staple tropes of noir filmmaking come into play to create some beautiful uses of light – back when films treated shadow with as much respect as they did its counterpart – as well as bringing an air of suspense and sexuality to the piece.

The film is about a man, Francois (Jean Gabin), who has recently committed a murder and is looking back on the events that lead to him to taking such actions. To say the film is about a murder (as I was told before watching it) is like being told Pulp Fiction is about two guys sent to collect a briefcase. It is about two guys sent to collect a briefcase, but that synopsis hardly does justice to the content of the film.

Jules Berry plays the murdered Mr Valentin, and does a fantastic job in creating a reprehensible villain in a film full of grounded, realistic characters. An almost Jack Nicholson level of manic creepyness helps bring to life this original role.

The main issue I have with Le Jour Se Léve however, is that I’m not sure what it wants me to feel. Do I feel sympathy for Francois as he sits on his bed, alone and confined, surrounded by bullet holes? Francois, the jealous, womanizing thug? The murderer? Do I feel for the women he has hurt along the way but who are ultimately the catalysts for his actions? Do I feel sorry for the murdered Valentin who beats and mistreats animals for a living?

Throughout it’s 93 minute run time, as strong as the dialogue is, it’s power starts to wain when you realize it’s the only thing holding the film together. The intimacy between characters is captured with a genius subtlety, and techniques such as long establishing shots and extended flashbacks shown via dissolve transitions show a maturity beyond the films years. But when there is little else waiting for you at the end of your journey than the murder scene from the beginning? Well, ones attention can’t help but wonder…

Ultimately, Le Jour Se Léve will probably be a love/hate film for many people. If you aren’t invested in the characters, you’ll be bored to death by it. But if you’re a sucker for meticulous camera movement, gorgeous dialogue, fantastic acting and exposed nipples (approximately two whole seconds to be precise), then this film is most certainly for you.


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‘You were remembering buildings demolished in your mind’ – Misplaced Memoirs at Hotel du Vin

Qasim---the-last-known-pose---F
I blame Warwick Castle for the fact that every time I see a site specific piece of theatre, I expect the ghost of Henry VII to jump out from behind a corner, but Qasim Riza Shaheen’s Misplaced Memoirs was a strictly no thrill, no scares, no gimmicks piece of theatre. It was, instead, a beautiful piece of well thought through theatre that told one man’s story as the story of many.

If you went to see his exhibition at mac and were in the majority of enjoying it but not quite understanding it, then this won’t make the exhibition make any more sense – but it’s still enjoyable. It is a personal story told through a series of strangers, jumping continents from Chicago ‘where you waited from 8:33 to 8:42, but I never came’ to Pakistan where ‘you dreamed of your ex’s ex’.

A tale is told to each of audience members through various parts of the hotel, for me winter in Chicago was depicted on the balcony and the wedding night perched on the side of the bath tub in a hotel room, and included slow dancing around the bathroom floor. The whole piece ends with a photo shoot for audience and characters, which I wish they told you before hand, otherwise I would have washed my hair and made an effort.

All in all, did it make me reassess my emotions like someone told me it would? No, but it was interesting how the hand of a stranger became more intimate and familiar as the performance went on. Was it an interesting experience in story telling that made me question what is theatre and what isn’t? Yes, I’m still not sure if the waiter who asked what floor I wanted in the lift was in the performance or not.

(One final note Qasim, if you ever read this – I’m really sorry that I trod on your beads on the bathroom floor when we danced)