“Fincher’s uneasy atmospheric direction combined with a Hitchcockian level of suspense and a surprising amount of wry comedy make for a truly unique piece that plays like a maladjusted rom-com.”
by Matt Allen
Cast: Rosamund Pike, Ben Afleck, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris
Director(s): David Fincher
Screenwriter(s): Gillian Flynn
Running Time: 145 mins
If you are blessed with the joyous task of catching the train to work each morning then you will have likely seen innumerable copies of supermarket thriller Gone Girl cemented to the hands of your fellow commuters – particularly at the height of its popularity last year. Now, for those of us who didn’t get round to reading the book, the mystery of Amy Dunne’s disappearance has been translated to the silver screen by the patron saint of the enigma, David Fincher.
When Amy Dunne (Pike) goes missing, her husband Nick (Afleck) is the prime suspect and all the clues point to one grizzly conclusion…
This is going to be a tough one. As with any review, the duty of not spoiling the reader is paramount, not least when concerning a film with so much mystery to revel in. That normally would mean carefully selecting which second act events to detail and avoiding all third act revelations entirely. But Gone Girl is so packed with kinks and curls from the off that talking plot becomes a minefield.
With that in mind, the old adage ‘anything in the trailer is fair game’ will have to be applied. To begin with, the film sets off at a steady pace; slowly chugging away through Amy’s disappearance and the media circus that inevitably follows (heightened by her minor celebrity status as the inspiration for her parents’ series of children’s books). Meanwhile, husband Nick struggles to navigate the social protocol of the absurd situation under the spotlight of a bloodthirsty media.
Then, by the end of the first act, the film explodes onto the open road, changes quickly up the gears and tears away at full speed. At 2.5 hours running time the film could have been in danger of becoming a slog but instead the unprecedented twists and the increasingly jaw dropping reveals carry film though to the end without inducing exhaustion.
The screenplay, adapted by the original author herself Gillian Flynn, does well not to show its hand before it is ready to. Making good use of the ‘unreliable narrator’ device of an incriminating diary and simultaneously taking an objective stance on Nick’s ambiguous innocence as a counterpoint, the script is able to foster a sense of palpable doubt as to the true course of events.
Fincher’s uneasy atmospheric direction combined with a Hitchcockian level of suspense and a surprising amount of wry comedy that almost doesn’t belong – but somehow compliments the film perfectly the darker it gets – make for a truly unique piece that plays like a maladjusted rom-com.
Afleck is cast well as the unintentionally smug and eternally exasperated Nick but the real draw comes from Pike who delights in her performance as the multifaceted “Amazing” Amy; a woman painted shades of cray cray. Her portrayal of a character who makes Catherine Tramell look like Mary Poppins is reason enough to part with your hard earned ticket fare.
At its core it is a masterfully satirical look at the capriciousness of the media and by extension the general public; it is a film about living up to the expectations of others; the parts we are told we have to play; the things that we are not but pretend to be. But essentially it is about the obstruction of the truth by ‘image’ and the growing importance of the latter over the former in our modern times.
Fincher and Flynn have created a new beast in Gone Girl; a perfectly balanced film about severely unbalanced people. Thrilling, surprising and incredibly entertaining.