Title: Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Major Players: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
Out Of Five: 4
Looking forward to a film is never an especially good idea, but when the names Fincher and Affleck are attached to it …… well, the chances of something worth seeing are better than average. And Gone Girl is most definitely better than average!
Nick and Amy Dunne (Affleck and Rosamund Pike) seem to have the perfect marriage, even if their careers have been affected by the recession. On the day after their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find that Amy’s disappeared and it all looks rather fishy: the glass coffee table is smashed and there’s traces of blood in the kitchen. The police think it looks dodgy as well, and their number one suspect is Nick himself. They struggle to put together a case, but eventually they arrest him.
That’s all I’m going to tell you about the actual story, otherwise we’ll get deep into spoiler territory. And that would be doing this film with its winding, intricately constructed story a massive disservice – and you wouldn’t be too chuffed either, regardless of whether you’ve read the book.
It starts out looking like a straightforward mystery thriller. Did he or didn’t he? And what’s actually happened to her? But the layers pile up. Nick and Amy’s relationship is dissected showing that, in the words of the song “nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors.” Built on top of that is a contemporary satire, with the media as the main target. It all-consuming influence on our lives, the ability of one picture to create an impression (accurate or otherwise) for all the world to see and the ease with which anybody can make use of it – they’re all part and parcel of life in the 2010s. And, of course, that means it can also be manipulated, as Nick’s hot-shot lawyer demonstrates when he trains his client using gummy bears to deliver an on-screen interview that changes the nation’s view of him. It’s all so tenuous.
Fincher’s obviously enjoying taking a pot-shot or two at the media – he’s certainly at his most waspish in this film – but he’s still very much also the thinking person’s popular director. Gone Girl happily sits alongside his other thrillers – Se7en, Zodiac etc – and here he’s helped by having the author of the original best seller as his scriptwriter. How faithful she is to her own book I can’t say. I will read it at some stage, but it’ll be after I’ve got the film out of my head – and that will take some time.
The story is also presented from several different viewpoints. Initially we’re looking at the crime scene through the cops’ eyes, then the perspective changes to Nick’s, while he’s hounded by the media. And he’s certainly not the ideal husband we imagined, being unfaithful with one of his students and smuggling her into his twin sister’s home for sex: he’s hiding out there to escape the media. Needless to say, his sister is less than impressed.
Hang on! What about Amy? We get her version of their marriage as well, in a diary that reveals the dark underbelly of the relationship – the loss of trust and, worse still, her fear that he might kill her. It really isn’t looking good for Nick.
As you’d expect, Fincher gets great performances from his cast, especially his two leads. I usually prefer Affleck behind the camera, but he’s especially well cast in this – smooth, plausible and just a little bit too cocky. But it’s Rosamund Pike who’s the real eye opener here. After seeing her last week in the so-called comedy, What We Did On Our Holiday, it’s a relief to see her in something that stretches her as an actress. She’s excellent and, although the current consensus is that Gone Girl doesn’t quite cut it as a potential award winner, she could well be the film’s one exception.
My preference is usually for Affleck the director rather than the actor but he’s well cast for this part – smooth, good looking, credible and just a little bit too cocky. However, it’s Rosamund Pike that’s the real eye-opener here. After seeing her last week in What We Did On Our Holiday, it’s a relief for her to be given something to really get her teeth into – a woman who’s smart, perceptive, resourceful and with more than little of the princess about her. She’s excellent and, although the current consensus is that Gone Girl doesn’t have quite what it takes to be an award contender this season, she could well be the film’s one exception.
Fincher has quoted as saying he wants this to be the date movie that will end in 15 million divorces! It’s certainly enough to put you getting into a relationship, let alone getting married. If you go to see it with your other half, it can’t fail to make you think about how much you know them. Or not. And if you go with somebody you’ve just started seeing ….. now, that’s asking for trouble!
Gone Girl is released in cinemas on Thursday, 2 October.