- Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne
- Rosamund Pike as Amy Elliott-Dunne
- Carrie Coon as Margo Dunne
- Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt
- Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collings
- Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney
- Patrick Fugit as Officer James Gilpin
Based on the addictive novel by Gillian Flynn(who also wrote this screenplay), Gone Girl, under the calculating and precise direction of the excellent David Fincher springs to unnerving life as a mystery of perceptions plays out in dark and surprising fashion.
Nick Dunne, a former writer who was laid off in the recession, comes home on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary after a drink with his sister Margo, to discover that his beautiful wife Amy is missing. There appears to have been a struggle as the living room is in disarray, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The case of Amy’s disappearance captures the public’s imagination as she is the basis behind a highly successful book series created by her parents, entitled Amazing Amy. Yet this case of Amy’s vanishing is not going to be a cut and dry case like everyone first thought. Nick’s behaviour, which seems somewhat apathetic and shifty, is interpreted by the media in a negative light and the finger of suspicion points his way due to his seeming lack of empathy or care. Other things don’t add up like a large pool of blood that someone mopped up and the detectives, Rhonda Boney and her partner James Gilpin, become suspicious of Nick’s actions. Most damning of all is the fact that Amy’s life insurance was bumped up significantly just before her vanishing and the biggest shock is a diary of Amy’s is discovered with ominous writing. It slowly comes to light that behind the seemingly happy marriage lay resentment and angst for both Nick and Amy. Soon Nick is in hot water as people turn on him and the voracious media descends on him, who speculate that he was behind his wife’s disappearance and possible murder. But just what has happened to Amy? To tell you all that would spoil the shocking surprise, so you better get watching to find out.
David Fincher is one of my favourite working directors. He has this innate ability to infuse his movies with a clinical and detailed view that engages the brain and keeps you on edge. Those skills are exhibited in Gone Girl to a high degree, as he directs with a scalpel like dedication to the material that busts apart the supposedly idyllic nature of marriage to expose something rotten. His fingerprints are all over this film and his attention to the little things that people may think of as just innocuous, stands this film in good stead as nothing is as it seems. Gillian Flynn adapts from her own book and I found this to be a very good string in Gone Girl’s bow, as we are getting the author’s seal of approval and her vision brought to the screen. Having read the book, I can say that the movie is very faithful to the source, with only the slightest changes here and there for good measure. Flynn does a golden job of the script that pulls into question with some dark humour the way that the media jumps on things and can easily make villains and victims with just a few choice words. Gone Girl is one of those movies that is hard to talk about as so much of it hangs on the mystery of everything, but I’ll do the best I can to describe my feelings and promise there will be no spoilers. All I’ll really say is that Gone Girl emerges as a twisted and compulsive film in which so much of it challenges our views of what we see and how there is not always a simple answer to everything( very much so in this dark exercise in tension and mounting curiosity). The visual essence of the film adds another thing to gild an already impressive lily, with the muted blues and burnt golds playing a key part in setting the mood of the film and sustaining a great deal of uncertainty that Nick( and the audience) finds themselves in. A throbbing, electronic score captures the growing surprises of the narrative of which there are a good many and really sets the dark and ghoulish mood of Gone Girl. Even when we get flashes of the happier times that Nick and Amy had in the past, there is something uneasy and ambient about the score that suggests otherwise.
Ben Affleck is marvellously effective at putting the audience on edge as to what Nick’s intentions and feelings are. One minute we pity him and the next we are not sure of him as he is very ambiguous and Affleck plays that to the hilt. The casting of Affleck is pretty inspired as he himself has been at the centre of the media circus regarding his own private life, so maybe that in turn brings more to the part. As good as Affleck is, the biggest standout star of Gone Girl is Rosamund Pike, in what is a career defining performance. Like the film itself, Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of the beautiful missing Amy is hard to go into without giving away key parts of the story, but like before I’ll try to be concise. Rosamund Pike is quite simply a marvel in this movie, in every sense of the word. The part of the elusive Amy is a dream one for an actress and Pike makes it her own, adding an opacity in the beginning to give her a deep mystery. Yet as the story goes on the character is shown significantly different in each part, as Pike masterfully pulls away the layers of the character to reveal someone who is very different and more unpredictable that initially thought. Rosamund Pike has been seen in the past in largely supporting roles, so the challenge of playing the lead of Amy just goes to show how fantastic she is in adapting to the part so well. Rosamund Pike is just spectacular in the role and makes a very deep impression. The other members of the cast are no slouches either and sink their teeth into meaty roles. Carrie Coon was appropriately sarcastic yet loyal as Nick’s sister whose the person to go to for advice, though her belief in her brother does take something of a bashing in the process. Tyler Perry was a welcome surprise portraying Nick’s lawyer, who has a reputation for getting people off even when the evidence is stacked against them. There is something arch and winking about Perry’s work, as he knows exactly how to play the media to get a result. Neil Patrick Harris oozes a strange sort of smarmy charisma and pining as someone that connects to Amy’s past and then we have a well cast Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit playing the scrupulous detective and her partner, respectively.
An almost forensic and highly compelling examination of what is behind the surface image and the accountability of the media on the people it preys on, Gone Girl is simply put a mesmerising thriller, boasted even higher by the direction of David Fincher and the two central performances from Ben Affleck and especially Rosamund Pike.