“What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”
Dark, tense, dramatic, thrilling, Gone Girl is perhaps one of the best films of the year to date. For his 10th feature film, director David Fincher turns the screw on the audience, and ekes out two incredible performances from leads Ben Affleck (Argo) and Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher).
Gone Girl is a tale of perception. For Affleck and Pike’s Nick and Amy Dunne, it’s about how the world perceives their relationship, and how they perceive each other and themselves. For the audience, it’s about how we perceive the truth and lies that are being portrayed to us over the duration of the film.
To their family, the Dunnes are seen as being in a healthy relationship. To one another, the Dunnes have grown to see each other as a burden. When Amy goes missing on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary the media swarm over the case of Amy’s disappearance, and in turn questions begin to be raised over Nick and Amy’s relationship, and whether Nick could have had a part in her kidnapping.
For large portions of the movie, we see the couple’s relationship through a series of flashbacks, told through Amy’s diary. This is her perception of their relationship, giving the audience a skewed take on the events that led up to her disappearance, casting doubt over whether what we are seeing is in fact truth and can be believed.
Affleck’s detached performance furthers the air of doubt, as he finds himself taking selfies with housewives and smiling at a press conference announcing his wife’s kidnapping, whereas her parents are in a state of shock and call the media and local residents to action. But was he ever truly happy in his relationship, and was he ever truly honest about who he really was? Or did he simply put on a face to maintain his “happy family”?
Pike is at a career best as Amy throughout, ranging from cool to cold, and from tragic to terrifying in her performance. She has spent much of her life in the limelight as the subject of her parent’s Amy Amy books. But as with her diary, these books aren’t always a true reflection of who she really is, and subsequently who the media sees her as.
With twists and turns throughout Gone Girl grips and doesn’t let go, cutting from flashback to present day, each time uncovering another layer of deceit, intrigue and mystery. Though the film ends beyond its natural crescendo and peak, it leaves a lasting impression and a chilling final moment.
Shot by FIncher’s frequent collaborator Jeff Cronenweth, Gone Girl is beautifully dark, with deep shadows, and a detached camera, reflecting the themes and characters of the film. The score by Trent Reznor pulsates throughout, cranking up the tension effectively.
The film is a dark affair, but shows restraint in revealing truths, and with violence, ensuring that the rare moments of brutality are truly shocking. With the biggest twists occurring roughly two thirds of the way through, there is concern that the film will fall at the same hurdle as so many other thrillers, whereby the reveal does not match the build up, but Gone Girl delivers a unique ending to this cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for people.
Beautiful, terrifying, shocking and gripping, Gone Girl excels and is a pleasure to behold. Watch immediately.
Rating (out of 5):