A meticulous movie about misogyny, marriage, media and murder.
It’s always deemed daring when filmmakers take on the task of adapting an incredibly successful book to screen. You’re not just aiming to please with your creation; you’re actively trying not to disappoint those who already have a connection to the story. Every aspect has to be done well, and it’s pretty hard to fault David Fincher’s interpretation of Gone Girl. With a flawless track record of turning novels into movies and teamed with the writer of the original novel, Gillian Flynn, as screenwriter, he manages to create a near perfect thriller that leaves you guessing up until every twist is revealed.
Not one to shy away from dark material, Gone Girl could possibly be Fincher’s sickest film to date. When it’s not making you feel so uncomfortable that you wince, it’s forcing you to laugh with some of it’s genuinely funny moments and it’s this uneasy nature that makes you feel tense from start to finish. Stylistically, the movie is beautifully eerie, completely mirroring the emotion of the film.
On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home to discover his wife, Amy, is missing. With signs of a struggle in the house and the growing vagueness of his alibis, the police quickly start questioning Nick’s involvement in Amy’s disappearance. Told in an almost backwards fashion, the movie simultaneously revolves around the escalating media frenzy and murder investigation as more and more evidence is revealed about what happened to Amy, whilst also showing flashbacks of the couple’s relationship beginnings as it starts to unravel the real truths of their seemingly perfect marriage.
On reflection, it’s easy to understand why the people behind Gone Girl decided to opt for dragged-out, media-based promotion methods rather than the usual flurry of extended trailers and TV spots just before the movie is set to hit cinemas. From the very beginning, it completely immersed the audience into the mystery of missing Amy Dunne with fictional search party websites and ambiguous posters depicting “evidence”. Now having watched the film, this way of involving the audience as part of the search for Amy as well as the witch-hunt of Nick appears genius. You’ve already formed an opinion on the distant husband and are desperate to know as to whether he did it or not.
The film undoubtedly centres on just that subject: the sheer power of the media. But it would be unfair to the story to suggest that it only makes viewers think deeply about that. It’s easy to see that the movie also comments on the social economy, gender roles and most obviously, marriage. The male to female relationships are interesting amongst all the characters as audiences are presented with so many different types of bond.
But it’s the women’s ability to manipulate the men around them that makes for the most poignant relevance in the film. Nick’s twin sister Margo (Carrie Coons) constantly tells her brother how to act in front of the cameras in an affectionate albeit bossy way. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) spends her whole time undermining quippy partner Officer Jim Gilplin (Patrick Fugit), but it is Amy’s intense influence over Nick even when she’s gone that is most fascinating to see unfold.
Despite a relatively ensemble cast and an impressive one at that, there are two actors who are unquestionably brilliant. With his classic All-American looks and charming smile, Affleck is the perfect fit for Nick. He’s certainly had his fair share of harsh media scrutiny in reality so he’s well versed in standing his ground when it seems like the whole world is against him. But it is Rosamund Pike’s performance as Amy that is the standout role of the whole piece. It’s no coincidence that Fincher chose relatively under-the-radar Pike, who hasn’t really had a major big break in Hollywood yet. It’s absolutely essential to the story that you feel like you don’t really know Amy and this is definitely the case with enigmatic Pike.
It seems only fitting that the last words spoken in the film are “what have we done to each other?”, but to understand it’s brilliant connection for yourself, you’ll just have to go and see it because you wouldn’t believe the turnarounds even if we shouted them from the rooftops.