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