Leone and Morricone. Williams and Spielberg. Herrmann and Hitchcock. The list could go on of the fantastic director-composer tandems that have achieved a catalog of greatness, but perhaps we should add a new duo to that list: Fincher and Reznor.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack to Gone Girl — the third collaboration with director David Fincher — begins mellow, smooth yet haunting. The congruence of strings, bells, and synths melt together, occasionally giving way to tiny glitches and portals scratching against the concrete covering a cinematic wormhole led by Batman-in-training, Ben Affleck, as his character navigates the backlash following the disappearance of his wife.
When the concrete gives way — initialized by Fincher’s ratcheting tension in the film — Reznor and Ross let us have it. The sounds drip, crawl, and plod out. A digital orchestra is squeezed through a collapsing corridor lined with barbs and thorns, and, at the other end, what we’re left with is a broken music box, hissing chords and notes oozing and dousing our toes with puddles of puzzled platitudes concerning the media and social recognition.
Although it’s only their third pairing on film, Fincher and Reznor have already proven that their tag-team is Oscar-worthy, and also, just getting started.
David Fincher’s knack for directing film seems to be prodigious. In his early 20s, he was already working on major studio films like Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (it didn’t hurt that George Lucas was his neighbor). Through the 80s, Fincher helmed commercials and promos for corporations such as Nike, the American Cancer Society, and Pepsi, as well as immersing himself in music video work for the likes of Madonna, Paula Abdul and Sting. In 1992, he would get his first break in major motion pictures with the poorly received Alien 3.
…if nothing else, it was a situation where I got to see first hand that if I wasn’t going to make the decisions myself, there are plenty of people who are going to line up to chime in and almost no one was going to be there when the shit hit the fan and the movie is judged. You just learn from that situation. You just say “If I do this again, I’m going down with the ship, so I’m going to make those decisions and I’m going to work with the people that I want to work with and I’m going to be involved in everything.
To say that the Alien sequel was a learning process would be an understatement: not one of Fincher’s films, since his debut, have dipped below the 70% mark on Rotten Tomatoes.