The cinematographer of Gone Girl, Jeff Cronenweth was born in Los Angeles, California. He studied cinematography at the University of Southern California and started the brilliant career with working as an assistant of such masters as Sven Nykvist, ASC; John Toll, ASC; Conrad Hall, ASC; and his father, Jordan Cronenweth, ASC. Jeff Cronenweth made his debut in 1996 with the movie Going Home – Robbie Robertson.
Jeff Cronenweth became a famous cinematographer after the brilliant work with David Fincher on such masterpieces as Seven, Fight Club, and The Game. In the following twenty years Cronenweth has worked on the commercials and video clips, collaborating with directors Spike Jonze, Stefan Sednaoui, and Jeff Barish. The advertising series Mountain Dew, shot by Cronenweth, was awarded CLIO Award for the Best Cinematography in 2001. Being an incredibly talented man, Jeff Cronenweth filmed commercials for Jeep, Verizon, Adidas, Master Card, Gatorade, Gap, and even Tommy Hilfiger.
The movie Gone Girl is one more brilliant example of the professional cooperation of David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth. The collaboration of both talented artists has the similar features. Thus, analyzing the movie, Kevin Martin states “Cronenweth contrasts the way he illuminates Gone Girl’s protagonists with his approach on his first feature collaboration with Fincher.” Gone Girl is a very atmospheric and incredibly controversial film, which successfully combines an elegant, romantic story, a profound personal drama, and a powerful detective. Reviewing the professional aspects of the movie, Manohla Dargis states “Mr. Fincher’s compositions, camera work, and cutting are, as always, superbly controlled.”
At first glance, Nick and Amy love each other; they are an exemplary couple for people. Amy is a beautiful and courageous protagonist of a popular series of books; she is sexy and smart. Nick is the bar owner and a teacher on the literature courses. In all aspects of family life, they complete each other. However, at the beginning of the film, the slowly moving camera of Jeff Cronenweth in the twilight, as well as the disturbing music of Oscar-winning Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, leaves no doubt that all this harmony is no more than just an illusion. Throughout the movie, a dense tangle of lies, truth, love, hate, secrets, revelations, hope, and despair, is unwound against all the laws of logic. Amy Dunne was dreaming about the successful career and happy family. However, she just got a marriage which became an excruciating torture. The happy family life turned into a routine, and the woman could do nothing with it. She just could leave all her thoughts and revelations in her diary. She mystically disappears on the day of the fifth anniversary of the couple. The things are scattered at home; the traces of blood are everywhere. Everything leads to the fact that the smart wife prepared a surprise for her husband once again, as she did the previous years of living together. However, step by step, Nick falls into the intricate maze under the police sight, and he cannot find the way out of it. Nick Dunne is also sick and tired of the marriage; he percepts the disappearance of his wife as a divine gift which helps to forget about the countless scandals and misunderstandings and start the life from the new page. However, he cannot even imagine how their infantilism will change not only their lives but the fates of the surrounding people.
In the first act, the picture very intelligently combines the events which take place at present, with the neat flashbacks, voiced by the characters in the first person, which help to follow the development of the relations of the spouses starting from their first date and leading to the gradually expanded family crisis. Moreover, each of the lines is moving towards its climax, but they do so in sync. During the movie, the feeling of anxiety is growing, and the harmony and carelessness gradually dissipate. The audience can observe how a happy couple is wasting the capacity for understanding. Nick did not even think that after a while, he would become the prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife. David Fincher plays with the audience, occasionally tossing the new clues and twisting suspense before the turning point, which is probably the most powerful twist pattern. It should be mentioned that the scenario is not limited to a banal detective intrigue: there is also some research psychology of marital relations, as well as the allusions to the theme of manipulation of public opinion, which is extremely topical in the world of modern communications. Fincher masterfully uses every aspect of filmmaking to create an aesthetically outstanding and extraordinary product which stands out from the mass.
Without any doubts, the masterfully created visuals enhance the story. The Fincher & Cronenweth movies have a special style. It is not only the unhurried narrative, oppressive atmosphere and the proportion of unreality of what is happening but the colors and tones of the picture itself. Indeed, the colors of the film echo its atmosphere. They are muffled, lacking brightness and expressiveness, smooth, though subtle, folding the necessary mosaic, inserting the needed puzzles. Without any doubts, Jeff Cronenweth performed his task brilliantly, and the results of the collaboration of two talented filmmakers are fruitful: “Working again with the cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, Fincher fashions an ever more haunted, haunting world that wavers so violently between ordinariness and aberration that, as in his other movies, the two soon blur.” As such, nobody can argue the fact that the visuals are the essential part of the top-notch final product created by David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth.
As for the cast, one should admit that Ben Affleck perfectly conveys the contradictory nature of his character, broadcasting a variety of emotional states of anger and rage to confusion and fear. Rosamund Pike did the fantastic job, transforming from the almost unknown beginner into the Oscar-winning actress. She managed to perform the subtlest nuances of personality, anger, aggression, stung, hatred, and the sanctuary essence of a woman which has always been a subject of analysis for various artists. “Amy is the best thing Pike has ever done: her performance is taut and poised, and at times almost masque-like. While her diary voiceovers swoon with emotion, her face gives you almost nothing.” Amy and Nick dreamed that they would not be a banal couple eternally dissatisfied with each other but would settle the family life without scandals and notations. The director`s idea allows two key actors Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike both perform the roles of victims and clever strategists who are trying to beat each other on the battlefield.
As for my perception of the movie, I should say that it is one of the best movies that I have ever seen. It caught my attention from the very first scene and left a bitter aftertaste. Watching Gone Girl, I could not understand who the chastener was and who the victim was. I acknowledged that women are not as defenseless as it may seem; they can be rather cruel when it comes to betrayal and revenge. Therefore, some critics call this movie “unnerving and provoking”. Undoubtedly, each man should be responsible for his deeds and actions, but the cruel revenge cannot be justified.
In Gone Girl, David Fincher once again takes up the study of the vices of the human soul. He draws an image of the pathological psychopath; an individual who is mad because of megalomania. The director demonstrates the manipulation of consciousness, subtle hints and amazing knowledge of human psychology, relationships and the simple motivation of the human actions. In the end, it all comes down to the primary senses, to the ordinary things, ripening in the human heart. Any act of genius is born of a normal human emotion.
In conclusion, it should be said that The Gone Girl is an incredible thriller with ups and downs, the unexpected twists and turns, that can be applied equally to both the story and the emotional background of the picture. Fincher is cruel and cynical but he is honest. Gone Girl opens a whole layer of complex and controversial issues; it describes live and vivid characters. The director is trying to say that it is only in man, no matter how weak he is or how prone he is to sins and evil passions, madness can find such a perfect form.