Directed by David Fincher
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris
Runtime: 149 minutes
Nic Dunne arrives home and his wife Amy’s gone. There appears to have been a violent confrontation; furniture’s’ upturned and there’s blood. It’s the Dunne’s fifth anniversary and as is her habit, Amy has left an envelope marked Clue One, meant to lead him to his gift. But it will also lead him down a sinister rabbit hole that could cost him his life. Nothing is what it seems in Fincher’s excruciatingly intense tale.
Gone Girl is as visceral as a psychological thriller can be. It clamps down and won’t let go because you can miss a beat. It’s a heavily nuanced cat and mouse game, any variations have significance, every second counts. This insanely riveting thriller takes all one’s attention. It’s an emotional and mental exercise starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in career changing performances as a married couple trying to, um, sort things out.
Basic Instinct, The War of the Roses, Death and the Maiden, Extremities with the flair of Alfred Hitchcock and a taste of the nasty realism of Flincher’s Zodiac all come to mind, but afterwards, but not while watching the masterful Gone Girl. Its 149 minute length flies by like greased lightning, so captivating is the story of love gone way wrong. If it could happen to them, this handsome couple, it could happen to anyone.
Their romance started well. There was plenty of physical attraction as they quoted famous quotes to one another and fell in love. Five years, things have changed. Nic is casually violent, breaking things, knocking Amy around and barely noticing. He’s selfish and callow, a lazy user who marries her for her trust fund. They lose their important Manhattan jobs and return to his Missouri hometown where hope seems to die. Eventually his days are spent on the couch watching TV and drinking beer while all her degrees have led to a life of reading.
Whatever the appearance of their nice home and marriage, the underlying reality of discontent seethes. And she disappears. He’s suspect number one. He isn’t sad enough, he smiles, and he doesn’t do or say what a grieving husband should say. The media makes mincemeat of him while camped out on his street. The community turns against him.
Gone Girl’s twisted, hyper zig zagging structure zaps us from past to present, and the characters’ actions, words, thoughts, writings, and lies constantly collide. Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay based on her bestselling novel. The first chapter is his story, the rest, the writings of his missing wife that tease us about the state of their marriage and the strong possibility that he has killed her. The clue game becomes a central evidence trail, as sinister and damning as it was meant to be.
Fincher offers a challenging and frankly exhilarating puzzle within a sophisticated and psychologically complex framework. It’s similar to but even smarter than Basic Instinct, and makes Hitchcock – whose influence is clear – look like a sophomore.
It’s slick and beautiful, drenched in threat, sexual ambiguity and blood. It has marriage in its sights and it’s not good. Fincher’s haunting films mesmerise and upset; they’re intriguing and get under the skin. Gone Girl is no different and it too is exceedingly hard to shake.