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Friday, September 6, 2013

David Fincher's GONE GIRL Cast Is A Bit of A Head-Scratcher

Let me say this first: I LOVED reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. As we continue to progress in the age of the antihero, Gone Girl gloriously presents protagonist ambiguity at its finest. If you haven't read the book, I won't spoil it here for you. In short, the story follows Amy, a "gorgeous" and brilliant" 30-something year old woman who goes missing one day out of the blue, to the shock and horror of her equally GQ-esque husband, Nick.

As Amy's small Missouri town comes to stand still to find her, surprising and disturbing details about Nick float to the surface painting him as the culprit. Aside from developing a seal-tight case, Flynn does a great job at creating an endlessly churning plot where nothing is as it seems. I couldn't put this down. Like many modern mysteries, it's not so much the actual premise that floors you, but the unique way the storyteller presents it to you. It's smart, stunning and thrilling.

That said, you can probably already tell that I am really interested in the impending film adaptation (scheduled for a 2015 release), which recently secured its key cast. David Fincher is directing it, which means it should be terrific (or at least I hope). But this casting is plaguing me.

Before I get to the bad parts, I can give Fincher some kudos for appropriately casting Ben Affleck as Nick. In the book, we never can be sure if Nick will cry or laugh at loud at the sheer irony of certain situations in the story. I think his emotional dubiety is something that will suit Affleck well. Nick is also described as handsome, which is another attribute Affleck shares.

But here's where the problems arise: Rosamund Pike as Amy. Great, an actress who's never impressed me in anything (do I even have to bring up her utterly bland performance in Jack Reacher?) will play a complex character that is so specific in every breath she takes. I can't imagine what Fincher is going for with this particular casting, except for the fact that she is blonde and tall (a statuesque 5'9") like Amy is described. As I read the book, I thought Amy screamed Charlize Theron (ironically, Theron stars in Flynn's other book adaptation, Dark Places).

The other supporting roles in the film have gone to Neil Patrick Harris (whose role has so far not been undisclosed but I have a spoilerful hunch as to whom it might be), David Clennon as Amy's dad, Rand, Kim Dickens as detective Rhonda Boney, Patrick Fugit as detective Jim Gilpin and Carrie Coon as Nick's twin sister Margo. I thought Judy Greer would have made a PERFECT Margo (her bitter sarcasm and wit is Greer's signature), but I was foiled again! (Though my sources tell me that Coon is an underrated actress, so here's hoping she can wow us in this fairly major role).

Then we've got the final WTF moment in the casting: Tyler Perry as the shrewd, smooth-talking attorney, Tanner Bolt. If you watch criminal Breaking Bad, he reminds me of Saul, just to give you a point of reference. Fincher race bended the role for Perry, since Tanner is described as a white man who is coincidentally married to an intelligent African-American woman named Betsy (who happens also to be every bit as savvy as her hubby).

I don't know about you, but I can't picture Perry playing a cutthroat/morally ambiguous attorney. Because Perry really has made a career out of playing morally and ethically astute characters. Unless Flynn (who is also writing the screenplay) plans to tailor this role so that it will fit an actor like Perry, I remain cautious about this one. But, like most Fincher projects, I am hopeful. Maybe Perry will surprise me.

Also, if Perry is Tanner, who will play Tanner's wife? I thought the obvious choice would be the eternally overlooked Aisha Tyler. But since Perry has mostly played asexual men or men with distant relationships with their wives, Betsy may not even be a character in the film or will have a brief cameo. (She has a very small role in the book but emphasizes a specific aspect of Nick's character. Plus, I think the idea of a high-ranking interracial couple would have been a nice touch for the film--a bit of Scandal for the big screen--and could have been a breakout performance for Tyler).

I suppose the whole "Perry is one of Hollywood's biggest stars, and can draw a huge black audience" reasoning was a major influence for him being cast (as are probably most of his non-Madea roles). But I just can't see it, at least not right now. It's early and of course no one has seen the film and knows what's up Fincher's sleeve. It could very well end up being spectacular and I will eat my words. It is, after all, right in Fincher's wheelhouse--a twisted, nail-biting thriller. But I'm still scratching my head about it.

Any other fans of the book feeling a certain kind of way about some of these castings? Am I the only one? Hello? Bueller?


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