Going solely by the trailers, you may be forgiven for thinking that Gone Girl would be your typical thriller film. Nick and Amy Dunne (Affleck and Pike) have been happily married for five years, with Amy herself saying “everyone told us marriage is hard work. Not for me and Nick”. Yet this marriage is suddenly torn apart when Nick returns home one morning to find a table smashed to pieces and his wife missing. Thus ensues a mad police search to find Amy, with the media escalating tensions all the while and suspicions about Nick himself slowly building.
Except Gone Girl is anything but your conventional thriller. For one thing, all questions regarding the disappearance of Amy are essentially answered midway through the film. At this point, everything you thought you knew about the characters is turned completely on its head, and it’s one of the few twists of recent cinema that really has the power to shock and appal, and one that you will truly say you never saw coming.
Gone Girl’s atmosphere is its best quality, building a truly unnerving tone through subtle words and looks between characters, accentuated by a suitably eerie soundtrack. Gillian Flynn, the author of the book the film is based upon, handles the script and shows true skill, particularly in her dialogue during the use of voice-over to really delve into each character’s head and portray one story from two very different angles. The script is impressively tight, with remarkably few plotholes for such a complicated and nuanced storyline. Coupled with fantastic direction from David Fincher, results in a film which immerses you so deeply in the central characters’ minds that the thoughts and ideas put forth through them stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Indeed, Fincher encourages performances from his leads, Affleck and Pike, that chill right to the bone, reminiscent of Edward Norton’s morally depraved monologues in Fight Club.
But Pike is the true star of Gone Girl, turning in an almost scarily believable performance, while the range she displays from one scene into the next is something to behold. The supporting cast is also well-chosen, with Neil Patrick Harris proving extremely entertaining as the slimy ex-lover, and Tyler Perry adding some refreshing levity in his scenes as Nick’s lawyer. In fact, the whole film is surprisingly funny, with a sense of jet-black humour creeping into many scenes, another aspect which serves to elevate this film above many of the same genre. Moreover, there is also an effective and rather original critique explored within the film regarding how people try to present themselves through various forms of media and how they put on façades forthecamera,butthisiswovensointricately through the plot that it never for a moment becomes heavy-handed.
Some may be put off by the rather lengthy runtime of more than two hours, but the relentlessly fast pace will keep you glued to the screen for that entire duration. Admittedly, it could be said that the plot becomes a little too far-fetched in parts, particularly with regards to how the police handle certain aspects of their investigation, and the film’s ending is quite abrupt and will leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but these are minor problems that hardly detract from the overall experience.
If you go into Gone Girl with moderate expectations of another by-the-numbers thriller, you’re instead going to get something much more original, and you’re going to come out a little more shaken, a little more horrified, but a lot more entertained.