Gone Girl Review

Gone Girl

It’s here at last! One of the most talked about films of the year from one of the most talked about books of the last two years. Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl is now David ‘Fight Club’ Fincher’s newest film, Gone Girl.

Clearly everyone loved the title.

To distill the notoriously complex plot down to its most basic elements for the uninitiated, Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike!), a happily married successful couple find themselves unemployed victims of the recession living in the world’s armpit: North Carthage, Missouri.

Sorry North Carthage, Missouri. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick is called back home to find his sitting room tidily trashed, and his girl gone.

Like the book, the film moves between Nick’s present day narrative of his rise as a media personality of questionable innocence in the missing persons case Amy’s disappearance sparks, and scenes of their married past narrated from Amy’s diary, which at the start, paints a warm and hazily lit, icing sugar dusted love story that soon takes a head cracking turn.

It’s a minefield from Clue One.

Gone Girl the novel, though a little trashy and pushing the boundaries of conceivability a tad too hard (though that’s fiction’s freedom), is a thoroughly gripping read, weaving many threads and posing many questions. As a piece of writing it is quite an accomplishment, and couldn’t have ended up in better hands.

Fincher knows how to tell a story and use a camera to show more than the purely visual, take-it-as-you-see-it shot; perfect for a mystery/crime thriller/comedy.

Clues may be planted, hints may be made (at the start Affleck’s Nick strolls along carrying the Mastermind board game, but is he?, and characters can be understood by the things they hold or use or stand by. Just not everything you see will prove true.

The character’s movements during certain scenes a quality of choreography, as does the dialogue itself, which lends the film a lilting ebb and flow.

The witty repartee that occurs when Nick and Amy first meet each other is the kind of conversation you wish would happen with that gorgeous stranger at the party, but what actually happens in real life is either wit abandons you at your most idiotic, making you wish to god you’d never tried.

Or you never have the balls to approach that gorgeous stranger in the first place, simply going home, and imagining the kind of witty repartee you might have had if you were a character in, say, Gone Girl.

Or The Social Network.

To all those talking of the surprise of the year that is Rosamund Pike, where have you been all these years?

This lady, quite frankly, owns. Probably best known for her role as Miranda Frost in Die Another Day, Pike is an actor of tremendous skill and elegance, having given a beautifully charming performance in An Education as ditzy 60’s blonde Helen, and being positively divine as Countess Rochester in The Libertine, the long-suffering wife of Johnny Depp’s playwright.

Here as Amy she is both icy and vulnerable, and eerily, terrifyingly intelligent. Ben Affleck rocks and rolls the charming but possibly murderous everyman character of Nick. To all the ladies out there, he’s got his Batman beef on beneath those everyman shirts; go check it. You’re welcome.

Gone Girl is one of the more fascinating portrayals of marriage, pitting husband and wife against each other; an exploratory battle of the sexes where there is a great deal of keen observations in the ways that men and women react to, for, and against each other.

This is often funny, and Gone Girl the film is very funny, often troubling, but always astute.

Following Emma Watson’s much publicised HeForShe campaign speech, Gone Girl’s ferocious clash of the sexes and portrayal of a woman being a man’s worst nightmare feels a little wrong right now. But this is no reflection on the film itself, which is superb and that you should quite simply go and see.

Gone Girl looks wonderful, with one glorious turned gruesome scene still swirling in my mind, sounds wonderful, the casting is spot on, and it’s the kind of film that’ll create debate and discussion between friends and family.

And especially spouses… good luck you guys!

EJ Robinson

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2014