Unspooling is such an inapt word — can brains, after all, be unspooled? — that it immediately puts dread in check. No matter how brutal the images generated by these words, surely there’s more in store than blunt-force entertainment. Well, yes and no, which is sometimes the case with Mr. Fincher. One of those filmmakers whose technical prowess can make the mediocrity of his material seem irrelevant (almost), Mr. Fincher is always the star of his work. His art can overwhelm characters and their stories to the point that they fade away, leaving you with meticulous staging and framing, and edits as sharp as blades. It’s no accident that the first time you fully see Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), the man who had been discoursing so vividly about his wife’s head, he’s alone...
Mr. Fincher’s compositions, camera work and cutting are, as always, superbly controlled. Working again with the cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth and the production designer Donald Graham Burt, he 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.
Visual Literacy by V. Deane
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