A hugely anticipated movie adaptation from a universally loved director, based on a smash-hit book; on paper Gone Girl ticks all the boxes. As dark and stylish as anything director David Fincher has done before, he has crafted a suburban thriller with enough murky twists and turns to keep the audience baited throughout the nearly two and half hour running time.
Gone Girl is the story of Amy and Nick Dunne, former writers who moved away from the hustle and bustle of New York when the recession hit and fell into a rut in their marriage. On their 5 year wedding anniversary, Nick arrives home to find Amy missing, and some clues pointing to a violent encounter in their home. The police arrive and as Nick is put under closer scrutiny, everyone starts to wonder whether or not he had a hand in Amy’s disappearance.
Those familiar with the book know there is so much more at play here, and to say too much would be to spoil the fun Fincher has in building up, then deconstructing the mystery. His two leads, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are outstanding, giving what could easily be career best turns. The story is told from the perspective of both of them in segments, flitting between past and present. The audience see both sides of the story, but so many lies are told it’s hard to know where exactly the truth lies. Nick walks a fine line between grieving and put upon husband, and a man on the edge of snapping, perfectly capable of killing his wife. Pike, however, steals the show. As Amy, she portrays only what she wants us to see, and it’s not until a dramatic middle act twist that we see the layers start to peel away from her character.
The movie is bathed in darkness throughout, and as the sense of dread for builds for Nick, the tension begins to mount, and the stakes are slowly raised. Fincher’s control of information, teasing clues and leading the audience one way then another is helped by the fact he managed to get author Gillian Flynn on board for scripting duties. The pace is controlled and measured and the mystery unfolds exactly like a good book. The secondary characters that populate Nick and Amy’s world all feel necessary and even the introduction of Tyler Perry and some comic lightness in the closing stages doesn’t dilute the seriousness of the situation.
While we won’t discuss the ending (that will almost certainly be done by everyone leaving the cinema), suffice to say the film, like the book, will divide people on the way it plays out. I was left a little hollow by it, having not read the book beforehand, but it doesn’t overshadow the fact Gone Girl is an excellent whodunnit crammed with stellar performances, as well as being a complicated, morally complex and jet black commentary on the pitfalls of relationships. ‘Til death do us part indeed.
(Images courtesy 20th Century Fox, Collider, IMDb, Tumblr, Scannain)