Gone Girl (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Gone Girl (2014) Directed by David Fincher. With Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Conn and Kim Dickens.


Adapted from the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name by the author herself, Gone Girl is a mystery-thriller that plays as very much two separate halves. Being a stickler when it comes to resisting spoilers, this is an awkward film for me to review. The basic premise is thus – Nick (Affleck) returns home one day to find his wife (Pike) has disappeared. There are signs of struggle in the house, the police are called and an investigation begins. All the while, a media circus develops and Nick begins to be implicated.

Directed by David Fincher (no stranger to adapting literary works), Gone Girl has his foreboding stamp all over it. Fincher does menace as good as anyone and with the help of cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (they’re regular collaborators), the film has a dimly lit, clinical look that despite the deluxe interiors of the homes we visit, presents a threatening air that suggests all might not turn out well.

Ever since Alien 3, much of Fincher’s work has dished out the darkness. Se7en, Zodiac and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – all films that weigh heavily afterwards. Add another to that growing list.

I feel a little tied-up in exploring the motivations of individual characters, as the power of the film lies in the not knowing. Most film lovers will be aware that Rosamund Pike was nominated for an Oscar for her performance, however, so it’s no secret to say that she is exceptional as Amy. To date, Pike has been an actress on the fringe of my radar, appearing as a steady supporting player in often forgettable fare. Here she fully demonstrates what she can do given the right opportunity. Make no mistake, Gone Girl is her film.

Aside from the main narrative arc, the film makes the most of the opportunity to have a healthy swing at the insidious nature of TV news and media reporting. Tragedy is often treated as reality TV entertainment in the US and Fincher pulls no punches in portraying it as a sick merry-go-round of hate-fuelled distortion. If there’s any room to breathe in the film, it stems from Tyler Perry as Affleck’s attorney. His presence brings a degree of levity that provides a subtle, much needed balance-tip of rare warmth.

With Gillian Flynn’s hands-on involvement, fans of the book can perhaps rest easy knowing the film has an authentic creative nucleus. It isn’t Fincher’s greatest work (that bar is admittedly high), yet it is still a highly accomplished piece that offers chills and surprises aplenty. Love and marriage might never seem the same again. 4.5/5


About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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11 Responses to Gone Girl (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Marshall says:

    Menace is a GREAT word to describe Fincher’s forte!

  2. Great review- I really liked your description of the cinematography as having a clinical feel. I totally agree and felt that one of the most disturbing but enticing elements of the film was the chilly sterility of Amy and Nick’s relationship, even when we believe things are going well.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I like your description “chilly sterility” – that’s so true. They insist on not being “one of those couples”, yet they are inherently strange to be with. Thank you for reading, it’s genuinely appreciated having such thoughtful input.

  3. cevans1982 says:

    I’m a fan of Fincher’s work but yet to check this out and appreciate the lack of spoilers in the review! Alien 3 is underrated and Zodiac was really well done and Ben Affleck may have his haters but I think he’s grown as an actor, Argo is case in point – I’m think there’s every chance that he’ll be a great Batman!

    • garethrhodes says:

      You’re welcome, re – the spoilers. It’s always my aim to reveal as little as possible about the plot.

      The Affleck hate is a strange one that I’ve never understood. I like him. I wonder where it all stems from; I know Twitter almost broke when he was announced as the new Batman – which, for me, was a great indictment of the rampant stupidity that prevails across social media in general.

  4. That Other Critic says:

    Fantastic review! Need to make sure to see Gone Girl. Thanks for avoiding spoilers.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much. I’m a firm believer that all reviews should avoid spoilers. A review should be about tone, overall quality; various elements such as performances, direction, sound, music, relevance re- a film’s cultural standing. I see too many reviews with SPOILER ALERT! and I just don’t want to read (although I do appreciate the warning). Thank you.

  5. filmfunkel says:

    I have GOT to get to this one.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Yes, it is very good. Those familiar with the book might have a different opinion, but as a domestic-thriller, I thought it worked well. It’s also home to a memorable performance.

  6. I liked this most of the way through, but the plot just got a bit ridiculous towards the end. And I don’t have a clue why she would go so far. And as with many films, these people seemed to have no friends, no world. A bit thin on details.

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