Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Game follows Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a very wealthy and successful investment banker, who seems to be 100% invested in his work at the expense of his personal life. The movie opens on his birthday and he meets with his estranged brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), who has a very special birthday gift for him. Nicholas is given a voucher to CRS (Consumer Recreational Services) for a "Game" that Conrad describes as being "life altering". He goes to CRS to redeem his gift and he soon comes to learn that this gift may be more than he ever bargained for.
Michael Douglas may be billed as the star of the movie but that honor really has to go to David Fincher. Every frame of the movie is infused with Fincher's visual style from different color palettes to the frantic action in some scenes. He creates a palpable sense of paranoia that builds as the movie goes and finally comes to a head in the last 15 minutes of the movie. I feel like this is where he really refined his ability to create the perfect mood in a movie, because he has been near flawless in every single one of his movies since this one. Michael Douglas is also excellent in this movie as well and this was his finest performance since his appearance in the first Wall Street. His character's "game" has to to with having him face his worst fear, which is being not in complete control of his life.
The cinematography is spot on throughout the entire movie as it usually is in a Fincher production. Who knew that a clown doll laying down in the middle of a driveway could be so terrifying? Little moments like this are signatures of Fincher and litter this movie. This is a dark movie that takes place mostly at night and there is never a time that the scene is consumed in darkness. You are always able to tell what is going on but there is a sense of dread that permeates every scene that keeps the viewer on edge throughout the entire movie. If a movie is able to keep me guessing and on edge that is a win in my book.
The whole theme of the movie is facing your worst fears and overcoming them. Van Orton's journey takes him from a selfish self-obsessed asshole to a man who actually values his life and the people around him. There is always something that we are afraid of and are unwilling to face no matter how up front and center in our lives it is. Sometimes we need a push to make a major change or to just simply get back on track. This movie is about an over the top attempt top fix someone's life and it is a great movie. I found a lot of myself in the movie because I tend to seclude myself from people and shield myself from certain things. I get wrapped up in something and I ignore things that are staring me right in the face. Those are somethings that I need to fix and that is probably what made this movie really effective in my eyes because it was personal to me.
I really loved this movie and I related to it on a personal level in many ways. Not so much the being rich and successful but the idea that you can seclude yourself from people and lose a lot in terms of lasting relationships. David Fincher did an absolutely incredible job and this should stand alongside Seven as being his best movies. Check this out in Criterion Collection form on Blu Ray of DVD, it is just incredible.