Review by Sam Wyatt
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris
In cinemas 2nd of October
It’s a sure sign of good cinema when a film can produce an emotional rollercoaster ride for an audience, and Gone Girl did so much more. There were grimaces and audible shock one moment and outright laughter the next but what struck me most about this film was just how much heated discussion broke out as soon as the end credits rolled.
Gone Girl is set in an American Mid-West of broken dreams. One afternoon Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) arrives back to his seemingly idyllic home to find that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing. There are signs of a violent struggle and events move quickly as we simultaneously explore the couples’ past, from their fairy tale beginning through five years of steadily deteriorating marriage. Whether the audience cares for Nick is one of those matters about which friends leaving the cinema seemed to disagree, but I found I did care for him. However, as the investigation into the disappearance of “Amazing Amy” begins to unfold, Nick is the only conceivable suspect in the frame and our sympathy for him is strained. The film treads that important but fine line of the mystery thriller in giving you not quite enough to really be certain of anything, yet somehow it manages to maintain this uncertainty for two and a half hours.
Gone Girl will surely be one of the most talked about films of 2014 and for all the right reasons. Ben Affleck follows up his success with Argo by giving a delightfully difficult to predict lead performance that counters any criticisms regarding the often cited bland nature of his acting. He has been very hard done by in the film community over the years and the only reason he may be overshadowed in this film is that he has the on screen presence of Rosamund Pike with which to contend. She is simply brilliant and is the icing that sells the movie. It is difficult to remember the last time I saw such a dynamic and powerful on screen relationship as between these two. Several of Hitchcock’s leading duos come to mind.
This film feels as though it will gain a standing similar to Fincher’s Fight Club. It may not acquire such a hard-core cult following, nor be as innovative, but the controversial characters will keep viewers talking for many years to come. The exploration of relationships, marriage and the media with the notion of what you conceive to be true as opposed to what is really true is set in such a hauntingly cold, fake and most of all familiar modern society that you have no choice but to be uncomfortable.
The self-described mystery thriller is interspersed with deeply tragic sequences, almost Shakespearian in nature, but also enough moments of outright black comedy to know that you’re in a world of David Fincher’s making. For those not used to it, his changes in tone can be jarring. Whilst the film does have a moment of deep and even chilling insight at its conclusion the impact of this is reduced by an occasional lack of economy in that sometimes covers too much of the same ground.
Gone Girl is definitely not for the faint of heart but David Fincher fans will be thrilled by another “strap yourselves in” experience. If nothing else, I now know why the words “Marriage” and “Institution” are so often used in the same sentence.