Ben Affleck, by this point, has established himself as a notable, award-winning director with three near-flawless thrillers under his belt in Gone Baby Gone, The Town and the Best Picture-winning Argo. But it’s still refreshing to hear him explain why he wants to work with certain directors, what he learns from them, and how they inspire his work, to this day.
During a Q-and-A to help launch the New York Film Festival, Ben Affleck joined David Fincher and the cast of Gone Girl on Friday evening in Manhattan for a revealing talk. During the discussion, Affleck talked about how he would have moved mountains to collaborate with Fincher, and admitted to watching one of Fincher’s own masterpieces each time before he has attempted to direct his own feature film.
Affleck said he religiously watches Se7en, because it is "the most perfectly, meticulously, Swiss-watch made thing."
How on Earth could one argue? After the debacle that was Alien 3, Se7en was the stylish, brutal crime thriller that announced David Fincher as a director to which we had to pay attention. He coached Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey to career-defining parts, and wasn’t afraid to push the envelope with regards to the terror and violence that would be part of the balls-out hunt for a ruthless serial killer.
Stepping back and looking at the filmographies of the two directors, you can see how they share similar interests. Ben Affleck, over the course of his short directorial career, has favored blue-collar crime stories about child abduction, bank robbery and international intrigue. David Fincher, for his part, created the quintessential true-crime masterpiece in Zodiac, but has dabbled in elements of the genre for The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room and the new Gone Girl.
Now, the fun begins. Go back and rewatch Se7en. Then, surf Ben Affleck’s films, notably Gone Baby Gone and The Town, to see if you can spot Fincher’s influences. Visual cues. Dialogue lifts. I’m sure that they are all in there.
Gone Girl adapts Gillian Flynn’s novel about a missing woman (Rosamund Pike), the man she left behind (Ben Affleck), and the murder investigation that connects them. It opened the New York Film Festival, and will be in theaters on October 3.