Film Friday #201

Gone Girl (2014)

On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns from the bar he owns with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) to find his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. There are clear signs of a struggle so Nick reports Amy missing and an investigation into the apparent kidnapping commences with Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) at the helm. At first Nick is deluged with sympathy but as more evidence is uncovered, alongside Nick’s odd behaviour suspicions, are aroused that he might know more about Amy’s whereabouts than he is letting on. At the same time through Amy’s journal we learn about a marriage in crisis plagued by unsatisfied expectations and the pressures of real life tearing apart a shallow connection between two people both pretending to be something they are not.  My book club read Gone Girl almost two years ago before there were any whisperings of a film and it was a firm favourite so I was definitely looking forward to seeing this. Unfortunately the problem with a story that relies so heavily on a massive twist is that knowing the twist really affects your experience and I am finding it almost impossible to extricate my experience of the novel from the film. It’s hard to know how I would feel about the film if I had gone in blind. What I can tell you is that unlike many others, I thought the casting of Amy and Nick was inspired before I saw the film and that did not change in viewing it. Pike has exactly the kind of icy beauty required to play a woman as calculated, manipulative and distant as Amy and Affleck’s smarmy charm makes it easy to hate and pity Nick simultaneously. All of that said, despite the fact that Gone Girl is two and a half hours long, elements of it feel underdeveloped and I didn’t feel as in tune with the characters’ motivations as I did while reading the novel. Although I enjoyed it, I left wanting more. Would I have felt like that if I hadn’t read the book? Quite potentially not but at this stage I think it’s almost impossible to tell. David Fincher does a solid job of translating the source material to screen but for me, it’s not his best. 3.5/5


Now that Nick’s wife was missing he could wear her panties without any fear of repurcussions

Life After Beth (2014)

When Zach Orfman’s (Dane DeHaan) girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza) dies, he finds himself lost in a slump of misery, mooching around in black clothes, disconnected from his family and obsessively spending time with Beth’s parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) despite the fact that their relationship was having troubles before she died. One day he pops in to see Beth’s dad, Maury and spots Beth in the house discovering that she has come back to life. Zach is ecstatic but Beth has no memory of dying, in fact she’s a bit hazy on a lot of details. The more time Zach spends with Aubrey stranger her behaviour and appearance becomes and he starts to suspect that she is a zombie. Now he’ll have to figure out how to break up with her without her killing him in the process, while at the same time keeping out of the way of an ever increasing horde of the undead. To some extent it feels like Life After Beth was a good idea that would have made a fun episode of Buffy but just isn’t a coherent enough concept for a full-length film nor does it pack enough laughs to make you forget just how silly it is. DeHaan is suitably type-cast as quirky, Zach but Plaza spends most of the film doing little more than gurning angrily, which gets tired quite fast. My favourite character ended up being Zach’s trigger happy brother Kyle, played by an always excellent Matthew Gray Gubler. After reading Cinema Parrot Disco’s review I found myself agreeing that there isn’t enough exploration of what Zach and Beth’s relationship was like before she died and that might have been a better use of screen time than dragging out all of Zach’s dead relatives and it would have made the concept of knowing when to let go much clearer as a theme. Points for effort but not the final result. 2.5/5

As a girlfriend, Beth was head and shoulders above the rest

As a girlfriend, Beth was head and shoulders above the rest

White House Down (2013)

I can’t believe I actually have to try and remember what happened in this idiotic film but anyway… Channing Tatum takes his whiny daughter on a tour off the White House on the same day he is going to have an interview with his ex-girlfriend (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to be in the secret service. That goes tits up because he’s a bit crap with authority. Poor Channers. Then some angry dudes break in and try to kidnap the President (Jamie Foxx) but Channing holds them off and he and Barack… I mean Jamie… have to stop the angry dudes from starting world war three. But it’s not actually the angry dudes in charge… it’s James Woods and he’s supposed to be the President’s best mate! LOUD NOISES! And then everyone thinks the president is dead so a whole bunch of people get to have a go and being president including Richard from Eat Pray Loathe. And there’s an RPG! And Channers saves his daughter and Barack. The end. 1.5/5


Where’s the mothefucking RPG? You said I could fire a RPG?

The Family (2013)

The Manzini family find themselves in Normandy, renamed as the Blakes, after their latest witness protection programme relocation. Their handler, Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), desperately wants them to fit in but old habits die hard and it’s not long before mum, Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) is blowing up grocery stores, dad, Fred (Robert De Niro) is exerting unnecessary pressure on the local council to sort out his plumbing, son, Warren (John D’Leo) has several criminal operations on the go at school and daugter, Belle (Dianna Agron) is trying to seduce her maths tutor.  This becomes the least of their problems when a series of ridiculous events leads to mob boss, Fat Willy (Vincent Pastore) finds out where they are. The Family’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be and so it ends up as a bizarre mishmash between a thriller and a comedy, neither of which works. De Niro has one great scene where he relays stories of his childhood to the film club he’s been invited to join but other than that this is a waste of a good cast on ill-conceived material. 1.5/5

God save me from the terrible direction my career has taken

God save me from the terrible direction my career has taken



  1. When a film’s name is a pun I guess it’s never a good sign. I hope you treated yourself to some good popcorn with so many disappointing films.

    1. Abbi

      My movie snack of choice is often ice-cream because my local theatre has a Ben & Jerry’s stand but even the peanut butter cup couldn’t totally soothe the sting of Life After Beth.

  2. I read Gone Girl last month, and I was so angry and disappointed with the ending, I’m not sure I want to see the film. Maybe I’ll give it a go now.

    And Netflix insists, over and over, that I would love The Family. Meh.

    1. Abbi

      I didn’t love the ending of the book or the film. In both cases I wanted more. It’s still a decent watch though.

      I can almost guarantee that you will not love The Family.

      1. The Family was truly terrible. Painfully so.

  3. I feel exactly the same about Gone Girl although I think I enjoyed it a tiny bit more than you did. It just wasn’t going to be as exciting already knowing the twist! The book was such an exciting read. Sorry if I made you like Life After Beth slightly less?? Lol. It was weird – I felt like I’d missed the beginning as she’s suddenly dead after we briefly see her hiking or whatever and I had to remind myself that I was in the cinema from the very start and hadn’t missed a thing. I think I had just assumed we’d see them together before her death too. Umm… I guess I’ll skip the other two! 😉 Sound awful.

    1. Abbi

      You just made me think about Life After Beth a bit more and then I was like actually I really didn’t like most of it. Definitely don’t bother with the other two.

  4. Great reviews. I have no desire of watching Life After Beth, and I’m glad I steered clear of The Family and White House Down. About Gone Girl, I LOVED it. Rosamund was perfect. I had read the book before as well and I was surprised at how much I liked the film and how suspenseful it was for me despite knowing everything that was going to happen.

    1. Abbi

      Life After Beth just missed the mark completely. The idea wasn’t enough for a whole film. I thought Gone Girl was good but it just didn’t quite live up to the book for me.

      1. Fair enough. I did like it a lot. Taking my boyfriend to see it tomorrow.

  5. Hey! Another Gone Girl reader who felt VERY similarly to me after seeing the film. I agree the casting was inspired. The leads were solid. But it’s hard to know how you would had you NOT read the book prior. I also agree that some of the characters didn’t feel as developed, and it just wasn’t Fincher’s best. I scored it 2.5/4, you gave it 3/5. Nice review, Abbi!

    Also, I just got a kick out of your summary of White House Down. I haven’t seen it, but your review made me laugh. Cheers.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I really loved the casting for Gone Girl and the performances were excellent.

      I couldn’t bring myself to give White House Down a serious review.

      1. I think it’s probably better that you didn’t give the film a serious review. I don’t think it would have fit as well!

  6. Great round up. I think that you and I see perfectly eye to eye on Gone Girl, though I think that I definitely enjoyed Life After Beth more than you did. Your White House Down bit? I could feel your enthusiasm rolling through my screen…

    1. Abbi

      I wanted to love Life After Beth because you know Dane DeHaan and Matthew Gray Gubler and zombies but I just got bored. White House Down was ludicrous.

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