The biggest struggle a movie critic often has to grapple with is separating the 'fan boy' from the 'observer'. This is especially true every time any self respecting film lover tries to discuss David Fincher's work. After all, how do people try to criticize the work of someone who gave us Fight Club? In the world we critics live in, that would be the closest thing to blasphemy. For now, let us start with how currently the buzz is around the next Fincher film - his adaptation of Gillian Flynn's bestselling 2012 novel, Gone Girl.
Word of Fincher directing Gone Girl was doing the rounds since January of last year, but it was confirmed only when Ben Affleck was officially chosen in July for the lead role of Nick Dunne. People all over social media loved the idea of Affleck playing this part because just a few months before that it was announced that Affleck would be the new Batman for the Batman vs. Superman film scheduled to be released in 2016. Back then, the internet went berserk. At least now, Affleck knows that he is not entirely hated. People were only questioning the casting and not his acting prowess; the Gone Girl announcement proved it. Fincher, not to shy away from a chance to parade his wit, explained (on being asked why he chose Affleck) that Ben was perfect as Nick Dunne as he already knows what it feels like to be hunted by the media. This was an obvious jab at the media's obsession with the actor's string of past relationships with A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez, before he eventually settled down with his now wife, actor Jennifer Garner.
However, let us not digress - this is about Fincher and his work. The few people who criticize Fincher, mainly do so regarding one aspect - that he makes films that fall under a specific category - psychological thrillers. This is true to a certain extent. After all, his resume includes Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac and his adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The reason his debut feature Alien 3 was not included in this list is that Fincher, in his interview with The Guardian in 2009, said - "No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me." However, even if we leave that movie aside, we are still left with titles such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network, a fantasy and a biopic, respectively. These films are light years away in terms of plot from each other and yet there is a vague similarity between them. They are all clever, not funny in the generic sense, and they fill the viewer with this sense of unease, something that is very rare in what passes off for movies nowadays.
Se7en was about a person so committed to punishing humanity for its seven deadly sins that even self sacrifice was an accepted price to pay to fulfil it. It redefined 'psychos' in Hollywood and showed Kevin Spacey in a new light altogether. Fincher made Spacey bring out that trademark 'confidence in the face of hopelessness' that the actor later used in films such as American Beauty, The Life of David Gale, and also in Netflix's path breaking drama House of Cards, for which David Fincher is an executive producer.
Fight Club cannot be praised enough. It is one of those rare examples where a brilliant book is overshadowed by its very own screen adaptation. Even the author, Chuck Palahniuk, conceded that he loved the movie more than his own novel.
All of this brings us to the eventual question - Is David Fincher the perfect choice for Gone Girl? Well, seeing how the trailer has already created a wave on social media and the teaser poster has already been billed as one of the best ones in recent times, I would have to say - so far, he has been perfect.
Another reason why roping in Fincher was a good idea, at least for those of us who love his work, is that he is a director who fights for perfection. In Se7en, the studio executives wanted to chop parts of the climax claiming them as "too violent". Fincher put his foot down and so did Brad Pitt and together they managed to pull it out without any cuts. Gone Girl needs someone like Fincher to be at the helm.
What also makes Fincher highly suitable for the gig is that he is great at turning books into masterpieces in filmmaking. Exhibit A - The Social Network was adapted from the book 'The Accidental Billionaires' by Ben Mezrich. The book was good but quite frankly not something many would remember for a long time, provided they read a lot. However, Fincher's adaptation turned what seemed like a simple story into a twisted yet detailed web of friendships and betrayals that not only told us the story behind Facebook but also gave us an accurate mind map of what it was like to be Mark Zuckerberg back when he was a student at Harvard. Even the fans of the book nodded their heads in approval when they saw how the movie took the story to a completely new level. Gillian Flynn's fans can expect the same. I do not know how necessary that is, because as a fan of good cinema, they sold it to me by simply getting David Fincher to direct the film. For many of us, that is all that matters.
Gone Girl releases on October 3rd.