Review – Gone Girl
Director David Fincher and screenwriter Gillian Flynn (adapting her novel of the same name) poison the marital well with Gone Girl, amplifying the passive aggression of long term relationships until all that remains is malice. But there’s more to Gone Girl than just Everybody Loves Raymond style gags and observations about monogamy; gender roles are scrutinised, the trashy media gets a lashing and privileged white America gets the shameful spotlight once again.
On the morning of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. Soon, two detectives (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) start investigating Amy’s disappearance and Nick becomes the prime suspect.
Fincher’s Gone Girl is a venomous labyrinth of shifting empathy and cynicism. The truth is bent out of shape and our perceptions of the story are mangled through sickly sweet flashbacks of the good times and melodramatic retellings of the bad. It’s all coupled with treasure hunt crossed with a murder mystery that livens up the police procedural aspect of the story. Fincher tempers the revelations to have the right impact but his mark as a director is mostly absent. The guy that made Seven, Fight Club and The Social Network seems to be operating on auto-pilot and as a result the story burns a little too slow and bland. But maybe he’s intentionally holding back to downplay the monotony of married life in suburbia to make everything more unassuming. The need to satisfy Flynn’s fan base does make the film a victim of its own faithfulness as it lumbers through scenes worthy of the cutting room floor in their inadequacy to the narrative, but this is probably only noticeable to those who have read the book.
Despite being bloated, Flynn’s screenplay is where Gone Girl blazes. It scorches the perception of marriage as a mark of perfection to the ground, and Fincher’s camera is always zooming in on Nick and Amy like a nosy neighbour looking for the imperfections that are hidden behind the kind of smiles you see in staged wedding photography; smile like you mean it. The novel, and now the film, has been brandished with a misogynistic tag but no hate burns for women in Flynn’s work. There’s a pure hatred for the ‘roles’ women are required to play in society to keep men content, and these stereotypes are constantly exploited by the media for scandal (look out for Missi Pyle channelling her best Nancy Grace). Pike’s performance brilliantly cycles through the different personalities Amy inhabits to manipulate the people around her, but also, survive in a male driven world. The complexities of Amy and her actions in Gone Girl is most likely to produce sick grins and Flynn gifts her with a series of scathing monologues for Pike to unleash with ferocity. All of Amy’s observations are juxtaposed with Detective Rhonda Boney (Dickens) who is the authority on the Dunne case but is constantly undercut by her male peers who are more than happy to make judgement calls without proper evidence or take cues from public perception. In one scene, Boney’s voice is lost in a crowd of male detectives during an interview, and the case continues to suffer. While Pike and Affleck get prime real estate on the Gone Girl poster, Dickens performance is worthy of a third billing.
Affleck’s Nick Dunne slides from sympathetic to slime ball effortlessly and the performance is littered with enough incriminating smirks to keep the question mark constantly hovering over his head. Carrie Coon is paired nicely with Affleck as his blunt twin sister who acts like an external conscious, reminding everyone of the ludicrous nature of the situation. The rest of the ensemble is sublime with Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Scoot McNairy, Patrick Fugit, Sela Ward and Casey Wilson all making an impact with minimal screen time.
Gone Girl is a devilishly good time. What it lacks in style, it makes up for in substance.
The Popcorn Junkie