Following an extended lull on the filmy front, it was heartening to wake up to news that sent a pulse of excitement down one’s atrophied spine. Director David Fincher, who has built a career out of carefully-constructed cinematic adaptations from a diverse canon of literary works, will premiere his latest thriller, Gone Girl at the New York International Film Festival this week. The buzz surrounding the film, inspired by Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in the lead roles, is considerable for many reasons.
First of which is the fact Fincher has once again enlisted the services of two of his most trusted collaborators in music from his previous two films, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo . Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have reprised their roles in providing Fincher’s film with a dark, edgy and moody soundtrack, a preview of which was unleashed on fan-boys on Monday morning.
Needless to say, the track was all it took to set in motion a trail of memories, exciting as always, with the subject being Fincher’s works. The best place to start is right at the beginning, or at least this cinephile’s interpretation of the beginning, when Fincher’s genius began shining through. The rain-battered New York of Se7en (1995), a terrifying serial killer thriller, set the stage for Fincher’s foray into darkness.
The film, starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt features to its credit an opening credits montage, which fills you up with a sense of indescribable dread. But that’s only a primer to a film that slowly but surely ups the ante of unease with every subsequent misdemeanour, before culminating in a coup-de-grace of what could possibly be the most talked about shock-ending in any film. A reviewer had once infamously spoken about the film saying, “I was on the edge of my seat, holding on to dear life. And I had only reached the opening credits of the movie.” Set to a song called Closer, performed by the industrial rock group NIN (Nine Inch Nails), which is fronted by Trent Reznor, the opening sequence was, to anachronistically borrow from Casablanca, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
In 1999, Fincher went on to direct Fight Club , adapting Chuck Palahniuk’s highly muscular, genuinely masculine, vitriolic outburst of a novel. The film bombed in its theatrical run, but went on to gain cult status in subsequent years inspiring everything from t-shirts to TV shows, bumper stickers and merchandise of all kinds. Lines like, “I am Jack’s wasted life,” “The things that you own, end up owning you” and “The first rule of Fight Club is” were granted a well-deserved place of pride in the lexicon of pop culture.
Urban youthful disenfranchisement had found a new voice, stoking the embers of make-believe anarchy in every measly office-goer who felt vindicated that someone somewhere felt as impotent as they did. And the channel to let it all flow out was Fight Club. The strain of anti-establishmentarian, purely confrontational narratives would find resonance much later, a decade later in 2010, when Fincher adapted Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, and came up with The Social Network, which chronicled the rise of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The film was a smash hit, having employed the crackling screenwriting talent of Aaron Sorkin ( A Few Good Men ), who was fresh of the success of television’s The West Wing at that time, and who later went on to write the brilliant The Newsroom . Deploying his legal eagle expertise in the conversation-driven flick, Aaron’s script was buoyed throughout by the soundtrack provided for the very first time collectively by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Reznor had admitted in interviews that the soundtrack for The Social Network was composed by him after an extended hiatus from work, owing to his issues of addiction and the subsequent rehab.
Luckily for filmgoers, Reznor hitting rock bottom resulted in a soundtrack that was hailed by the director as “so intrinsic to the film that The Social Network wouldn’t be the film it was, had it not been for the soundtrack.” One of the tracks from this album has inspired the title of this blog.
This composer-filmmaker association continued through with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), the first English language cinematic adaptation and fourth filmy reimagining of Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster Millennium trilogy. Although not as commercially successful as its predecessor, the original soundtrack still offers a peek into the minds of a trio of the smartest minds working in Hollywood today. And now, along comes Gone Girl, the third collaboration between this team. For cinephiles and audioslaves all over the world, it’s a reason to rejoice.
To tie things up, here’s an interesting aside for those interested in the theory of six degrees of separation, which states that everyone and everything is connected to each other by a difference of six units.
The circuitous nature of creativity has thrown up a wonderful connection uniting Fincher with his lead actor Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Fincher’s previous film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was centred on a 40-year-old mystery concerning the disappearance of a young girl. Two films ago, i.e. before Affleck directed Argo (2012) and The Town (2010), he helmed Gone Baby Gone (2007), adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name. That film was about a toddler who goes missing in Boston and the ensuing search for her. Now in Gone Girl, Affleck stars as a man hounded by the media in the wake of the disappearance of his wife, played by Rosamund Pike.
Concurrently there’s a new film set to release titled The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby , starring James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain, which once again finds a couple at its forefront fighting domestic demons, and quite possibly, a disappearance at its centre, as suggested by the title. Something worth pondering over while I collect fodder for my next outburst?