|UK Release Date||2nd October 2014|
|Starring||Rosamund & Ben|
|Reviewed||24th October 2014|
So then (and I'm pretty much just copy and pasting this from an number of previous reviews), I have not read the Gillian Flynn book on which David Fincher's latest is based. I wasn't even aware of it, something that really speaks to my popular culture ignorance as when I mentioned this to pretty much anybody, it became clear that I am the only person who hasn't read this book. Honestly, I didn't fully appreciate how wilfully ignorant I am of all this before I started writing these reviews. However, in this instance, I think it's a good place to start.
Gone Girl then, is based on a very famous book. And from the accounts of the more enlightened, it does a very good job of converting it to the big screen. Reviewing this movie is fraught with spoiler danger as, if you are like me and know nothing about it, any mention of character traits could undermine the whole twisting, turning genius of it all.
Ben Affleck is Nick Dunne, a relatively upper-average American with a seemingly solid marriage to his beautiful wife Amy (Rosamund Pike). The recession has seen them both out of work (they are both writers of some sort) and whilst Amy's parent's wealth means they have some security, the trust fund won't last forever. Moving back to Nick's hometown in order to care for his ailing mother takes a toll on their relationship and when we first meet Nick, he is seeking solace in board games and booze at the bar his sister runs. That the bar is owned by his wife, tells us something about their relationship.
Returning home, Nick discovers a disturbing scene, a coffee table is smashed and there is no sign of his wife. The police don't immediately suspect that Nick has anything to do with Amy's disappearance but doubts persist. Amy's parents (wealthy from an extensive range of books partly plagiarizing and partly glamorizing Amy's childhood, but now struggling having being dropped by the publisher) come to town to support Nick and to launch a campaign to help find Amy.
As events unfold, Nick's behaviour comes under increasing levels of hostile scrutiny from the media, who question his close relationship with his sister, and Amy's history begins to throw up some very disturbing information.
So what to reveal and what not to? Well, I will keep it spoiler free but suffice to say, this is very well played by everyone concerned. Pike's performance in particular is difficult to fully praise without spoilers but she does an absolutely stunning job of rendering a character we only get to see through flashbacks for much of the film. Her Amy is a wonderfully complex character who will sway your emotions back and forth repeatedly. Affleck has the less showy role but convinces entirely as both the innocent husband and guilty / not guilty suspect. Of the support, it's the female actors who stand out. Carrie Coon is great as Margot, Nick's despairing and ultimately betrayed sister and Kim Dickens underplays perfectly as the skeptical detective who has her faith in Nick severely tested as time progresses.
Fincher is on less showy form here than we may have come to expect from previous movies. Camera flourishes are at a minimum with all his energy directed at pacing and structure. At 149 minutes, this isn't a short movie but is consistently enthralling for many reasons. It's just a pleasure for once to be watching a movie that has far more going on than even the extended running time suggests (the opposite seeming to be increasingly the case recently). As a kidnap / murder mystery, there is plenty here to keep you glued to the screen but Flynn (adapting her book) and Fincher have got so much more to show you here.
Modern marriage, infidelity, media intrusion, mental health and legal shenanigans all vie for your attention as you are bashed back and forth between the two leads. Fincher has no interest in toning anything down for the PG-13 cinema goers either, this is unflinchingly a grown up movie about grown up problems. Add to this the fact that Amy's diary (a key plot device throughout the movie) is by its nature an entirely unreliable witness and the overall effect it borderline overwhelming. Which is exactly as it feels it is supposed to be given the experience of the main characters. There are some plot holes that I won't go into and I'm still in two minds over whether the ending is frustrating or perfect but these seen minor quibbles in this movie.
I'm desperate to spend more time praising Pike's performance as it really is magnificent but I will steer away from the inevitable spoilers. If you've read the book, there is still plenty to be had with Flynn and Fincher's adaptation, if you haven't, you really are in for a treat. Gone Girl is a superb piece of grown up movie making. It is perfectly cast, magnificently well played, tightly constructed and as twisty as you could possibly want it. A bravura performance from everyone concerned.
Check out the trailer here.