Directed by David Fincher
Starring Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry
While Gone Girl has definitely been one of the hottest titles in the book industry for the last two years, there can be no doubt that the translation to film is going to bring it a much broader audience. At least this time the guts of the inevitable book-was-better argument have been deftly eviscerated with an incredibly taut and accomplished screenplay from the book’s author, Gillian Flynn.
If you’ve avoided all the hype and need a synopsis: on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) returns home to find his wife Amy (Pike) is missing and there appears to be signs of a struggle. The police start to investigate, but it’s not too long before it seems like Nick is the prime suspect.
For those of you worried about spoilers there will be none in this review. Rest assured, this is a film that will fuck with your head, even if you know exactly what’s about to happen. Yes, that’s right: even if you’ve read the book, the film has a visceral impact that will deliver the goods.
There’s very little risk in calling David Fincher one of the most interesting directors working in the Hollywood system today. His early films, particularly Alien³, Se7en and Fight Club all used striking camera movements and beautiful/off-kilter cinematography to create visual styles that were specific to each film. Later films are perhaps less confronting, but no less perfectly executed.
Fincher reunites with cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club, Social Network, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) for Gone Girl to create another excellently crafted movie, but both have the self-assurance to play it fairly straight this time around. This choice pays off, giving the impression that the dark and twisted parts of the story are revealing themselves to the audience. We are shown, not told – and the story is a cracker.
Ben Affleck is perfectly suited to the role of Nick Dunne – both the actor and the character are ridiculously aware of their appearance and it the effect it has on others, i.e. good-looking, but the kind of good-looking you kind of want to punch in the face for being so inherently smarmy. The kind of good looks that prevent you from being taken seriously when you need it most. Self-absorption, anger, confusion, arrogance and need – Affleck can convey all of these things very well.
Rosamund Pike is simply marvellous. While past movies have showcased her beauty and talent (she was the best thing in Jack Reacher) she really puts it all on the line with Gone Girl and she should be able to pick and choose from here on in. Amy is one of the most complex female roles seen in recent years, and Pike nails it. Like the Affleck/Dunne duality, Pike’s relationship to her appearance is pivotal to parts of the story.
However, Carrie Coon’s performance as Nick’s twin sister, Margo, is the anchor that keeps this ship from becoming lost within its tempestuous plot. Margo is loveably/irritatingly direct, loyal and honest, with an impeccable moral compass.
Gone Girl will be the psychological thriller of the year. Use it as a date movie at your own peril.