Gone Girl (2014) Review

Copyright BuzzFeed

Copyright BuzzFeed

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Gillian Flynn 

Certificate: 18     Running Time: 2hr 29 Mins

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

Maam rating 2

Plot: When Nick’s (Ben Affleck) wife (Rosamund Pike) disappears and becomes the focus of an intense media circus, he sees the spotlight and accusations turned against him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

When American author Gillian Flynn took the world by storm with her number one New York Times best seller, Gone Girl, it was simply a matter of time before Hollywood executives pounced on capturing the rights to create a cinematic adaptation. With the likes of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep released into cinemas this year, it is the minds of these talented artists where such daring stories are born. The risk with Gone Girl was always that Flynn would be cast aside from the scripting process (as was the case with Max Brooks and the disappointing World War Z). Thankfully, Flynn wrote the script and the mercurial David Fincher (director of seminal films such as Fight Club and Seven) was placed at the helm to direct. Their resulting love child is about as daringly imaginative as it gets; Gone Girl is a topsy-turvy psychological thriller that is unapologetically perverse whilst it unashamedly drop-kicks the stylistic barrier off a cliff.

Gone Girl is the most damning verdict on modern-day marriage that you’re likely to see and equally makes no qualms about exposing the corrosive nature of the media. It’s a powerful statement and one that is entirely justified. Perhaps, what’s most striking about the film is that no matter how deep it descends into bizarre irrationality, the dramatic mantle keeps being pushed up a notch. Just when you think it can’t go there, it slaps you in the face and keeps going. This is gripping cinema from one of the best in the business.

Rosamund Pike is a startling revelation in her role as Amy, the missing wife who has the whole of the USA clambering in the efforts to find her. Her smile is about as twisted and unnerving as the media campaign to track down her whereabouts. The chemistry between Pike and Ben Affleck (husband Nick) is nothing short of electric. Nick is the struggling writer impacted by the recession, forced to witness the grand success of his wife’s fledgling career taking off. The complexities of their relationship are what define them, a couple bought together by a false sense of love that quickly diminishes into a longing for a better life. When Amy disappears and the burning questions are directed towards Nick, those creeping doubts and shirking whispers are amplified. Did Nick have something to do with Amy’s disappearance? What is Nick hiding from the police?

As the questions mount, so does the tension and the unrelenting suspense. Although Gone Girl is probably about thirty minutes too long, the pacing and dramatic final third ensure an appropriately melodramatic finale. It’s worth calling out the standout scene of the film and quite possibly 2014. Amy’s encounter with an ex-lover is sent crashing with a deliriously disturbing, pulsating brand of ultra-violent theatricality that Hitchcock or even Dario Argento would be proud of. It represents the very best of David Fincher.  Whether the eventual plot devices tie together are up for debate and whether you agree with the warped view on the meaning of relationships is another matter. It will feel trashy and dystopian to many but one thing is for sure it’ll push you out of your comfort zone, kicking and screaming.

Drawing on the innovative edge of The Game (1997), the darkness of Se7en (1995) and the mystery of Zodiac (2007); it’s difficult to determine exactly where Gone Girl ranks amongst Fincher’s finest. Whilst it doesn’t reach the seminal status of the likes of Fight Club, it will certainly leave you with twisted blood and shaking your head with disbelief.