Release Date: 2 October 2014
Running Time: 149 minutes
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens
If there is one filmmaker that has defined the modern thriller, then surely that accolade must go to director David Fincher. From 1995’s Seven through to 2007’s Zodiac, Fincher has continually tested the boundaries of what the genre can achieve. Visceral, gritty, and possessed of an almost suffocating dread , his output continues to thrill and perturb in equal measure. His latest offering Gone Girl is adapted from Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel, with Flynn also on writing duties. It comes as little surprise that he has expertly assembled yet another tightly woven, incredibly compelling thriller; however this may be one of his most accomplished.
Goofy writer Nick Dunne (Affleck) is reaching the end of his tether in his marriage to cold urban socialite Amy (Pike). When she goes missing on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary he seems more confused than concerned, making half-hearted attempts at a search and getting increasingly annoyed at the unwanted attention it brings. Seemingly ‘too happy’ for someone whose wife has disappeared, the media spotlight turns on him as he finds it increasingly difficult to defend the mounting allegations against him.
With more twists and turns than a rubix cube, Gone Girl is a thriller that never feels like its heading towards any kind of inevitable conclusion. The thrill lies in the complete unpredictability of the plot. You think you may be one step ahead, but out of nowhere it throws a curve ball that knocks you sideways. It’s masterfully put together; screenwriter and director compliment each other perfectly as the story plays out. In a neat twist on the usual Fincher formula, we are not necessarily following cops and journalists. Instead we are put in the shoes of those being hounded by such people; by the hideous and judgemental media circus.
The performances are almost uniformly excellent. Rosamund Pike gives by far and away her best performance as the unsettling Amy; each subtle nuance and eye flicker giving away more than can be said through words. Affleck is great too as the altogether more likable but douchey Nick, the good will he builds can come crashing down in a heartbeat. Rounding off the top-notch cast are Tyler Perry (I know) as Nick’s high profile lawyer, Neil Patrick Harris as a thoroughly creepy ex-boyfriend, Carrie Coon as Nick’s long suffering twin sister, and Kim Dickens as the cop at head of the investigation.
This also wouldn’t be a David Fincher thriller without his musical partner in crime Trent Reznor. This time round his score feels even more sinister and malevolent than usual, echoing the uneasiness of Twin Peaks with its off-kilter synth tones. It works especially well with the visuals: the cinematography itself might seem sterile, but it cleverly helps to expose the insidious underbelly of suburban marital bliss.
A superbly entertaining mystery, a scathing attack on the predatory media and a thorough meditation on marriage and relationships: Gone Girl balances intellect and pulp entertainment perfectly to bring one of the most satisfying and proper adult thrillers in recent memory. It never resorts to anything too obvious or horrific, and doesn’t go for easy shock tactics; instead it lets the tension build to what becomes almost an anticlimax. Its this journey towards it and not the conclusion that will stay with you for a long time. Great stuff.