UK Release Date: 3rd October 2014
Runtime: 149 minutes
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Gillian Flynn
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens
Synopsis: A man finds himself facing trial by media and the court of public opinion after his wife disappears in mysterious circumstances.
Alongside Tarantino and Nolan, David Fincher is one of the few directors of the modern era who can claim that his movies count as real, must-see events. Gone Girl, adapted by author Gillian Flynn from her own bestselling novel, is an atmospheric, twisty-turny thriller that will certainly make some sort of showing during next year’s awards season.
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is in a rut. On the day of his wedding anniversary, he plays board games with his sister (Carrie Coon) before returning home. When he gets home, he sees that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has disappeared in seemingly violent circumstances. Nick is incriminated in the incident, leading him to hire renowned lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry).
Gone Girl is a masterclass in literary adaptation. The structure weaves its way back and forward through time, nimbly recounting the dysfunctional story of Amy and Nick from all possible angles and perspectives. Gillian Flynn has perfectly distilled the essence of her story into a form that feels brilliantly cinematic from start to finish, taking in themes of marital discontent, trial by media and psychological manipulation.
Despite the complexity of the tale and its myriad twists and turns, Gone Girl never outstays its welcome. Fincher’s direction is characteristically stylised, aided by the frequent flashes of excitement in Flynn’s screenplay, which surely deserves to be scribbled down on the Oscar shortlist in very permanent marker.
| "I will practice believing my husband loves me."
At the centre of it all is a terrific performance by Ben Affleck. His slightly unnatural mannerisms make Nick a truly unsettling character who never quite feels trustworthy. There’s something dislikeable and slimy about him from the very start, despite the support given to him by his sister – played by Carrie Coon with buckets of attitude.
Gone Girl also marks the beginning of a new phase in the career of Rosamund Pike. Previously best known for one of the worst Bond films, Die Another Day, and a series of middlebrow comedies, Pike is an absolute revelation in her role as Amy.
Revealing her story in flashback, she creates an indelible female character who is more than a match for her douchebag of a husband. With the Best Actress category looking a little lean ahead of the Oscars, Pike could certainly find herself in the mix.
Outside of all of its darkness, Gone Girl also has a surprising amount of levity. Tyler Perry’s lawyer makes the best of the script’s witticisms, managing to mine tonnes of humour as the plot becomes increasingly absurd and the gore quota rises. For every sucker punch of shocking violence – of which there are many – there’s enough comedy to adequately sweeten the mixture.
| "You two are the most fucked up people I’ve ever met, and I deal with fucked up people for a living."
Fincher also uses the film as a blank canvas on which to paint a picture of modern society. He is critical of the media’s black heart and the way in which the world can often seek to apportion blame to the most obvious party.
Gone Girl is a mystery thriller at its heart, but there’s more to it than simply the machinations of its plot twists. It creates characters who are ludicrous and loathsome, but also enormously interesting despite their failings and lies. It combines the wit of The Social Network with the bleakness of Se7en to conjure up a movie that is pretty much perfect.
Pop or Poop?
Up there with Fincher’s best work, this is a beautifully pulpy thriller with two scintillating performances pumping blood through its veins.
Every time it makes the viewer comfortable, Gone Girl immediately pulls out the rug and plunges them into another mire of blood, bullshit and brutality.
Sure to make a strong showing when the statuettes are handed out, Gone Girl is something very special indeed.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.