Gone Girl: A Practice in Creepy, Chilling, and All-Around Fantastic
I saw Gone Girl this past weekend and came out with an overwhelming feeling of unease about life. But the dust has settled, the images have finally left my mind, and I can only look back and marvel. David Fincher certainly accomplished his goals, whether by employing book writer Gillian Flynn to write the screenplay, casting Affleck and Pike as leads, or taking major risks with his supporting actors. These risks were a large part of what amazed me the most. In what seemed like a wink to the world of dramatic actors, Fincher purposely cast three well-known comedians to embody dramatic types. Neil Patrick Harris, known for his womanizing days on How I Met Your Mother and, more recently, cross-dressing on Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, played a creepy and possessive ex-boyfriend. Tyler Perry, the one who plays a woman in a fat suit, was a smarmy lawyer. And Casey Wilson from SNL portrayed a buffoonish, pregnant neighbor. With dozens of amazing dramatic actors willing to work with Fincher, why turn to comedy instead?
All three actors played tropes common to comedy and drama. The powerful defense attorney, for example, works in a morally grey area and tends to be successful, whether his clients are guilty or not. Here we have Perry, who is more used to outrageous roles and fat suits. But he manages to tone down his outrageousness while playing up the power that both his Madea character and Tanner Bolt share. Neil Patrick Harris had a harder job, trying to elicit both derision and sympathy from the audience. He plays a character that we can suspect of murder and feel horror for when we watch him die a long, played-out death in the most horrific scene of the movie. As big a fan as I am of NPH, I have to admit that he falters more than any of the other comedic actors. Then again, no one is thinking of Barney Stinson when we watch him and shudder at the words, “I’m never letting you go again.” Wilson may have had the easiest part of the three. Her role was an angry, naïve pregnant woman. Of course, she played it brilliantly. Wilson is no stranger to drama queens, as most of her comedic characters are larger-than-life, and often our TV screens, as well. She hung well with the other movie stars and was perfectly typecast, playing her character straight to bring a bit of dark comedy to an extremely dark movie.
In fact, all three characters had one or two moments of comedy (though usually paired with horror) in this movie. Instead lightening Gone Girl’s chilling tone, however, their unexpected role reversals reminded us exactly what kind of movie we were seeing. David Fincher took a risk in casting, and it paid off brilliantly for all three of these comedy stars.