“Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”
The opening lines of David Fincher’s psychological powerhouse Gone Girl already show that perhaps this isn’t the best film to go see with your significant other; the idea that we can never truly know what our partners are thinking is one of the many themes running through the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel. This proves to be a crux in the marriage of our two protagonists (though there’s an argument to be made against that word), Nick and Amy Dunne, a couple oozing with such complexity that psychologists would have a field day with them.
On the surface, the story is what you’d expect from a thriller-mystery: on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick discovers his wife is missing, and soon becomes the prime suspect. Through several flashbacks in the form of Amy’s diary entries, we are given a small but significant showcase of their lives together, from their first meeting to their falling in love to the eventual crumble of their marriage: “What have we done to each other?” Where Gone Girl stands out in the genre is for reasons that actually cannot be discussed without giving everything away. This entry fits well into the director’s filmography in that, similar to some of his other works, things aren’t all they seem to be.
Fincher has proven himself to be a master of unease, and his latest feature does nothing to deter this: Gone Girl is dark, disturbing, and stylistically impeccable (not to mention very, very yellow). The combination of a subtle, haunting soundtrack, clever editing, and beautifully chilling cinematography help to perfectly recapture the anxiety and dread that loomed over everyone who read the book, with some scenes even feeling like they belong in a horror film.
Another faultless aspect of the film is the casting. Given all the abuse he’s received from the media in his own life, Ben Affleck fits neatly into the role of Nick. Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Amy is on another level entirely; she is a powerful presence that grabs you from the onset and refuses to let go, even well after the movie is over. The supporting cast is also brilliant, particularly (and surprisingly) Tyler Perry, who turns out a great performance as Nick’s slick lawyer while also providing some much-needed comic relief (“Every time you look smug or tense, I’ll throw a gummy bear at you,” he tells Nick in one fantastic scene).
As adaptations go, this one was about as faithful as could reasonably be expected, probably due to the fact Flynn penned the script herself. It has its flaws; the most notable of which being that Nick is portrayed far too innocently – his misogyny and selfishness are toned down significantly – while Amy is arguably too vilified, which is interesting given it’s the same writer. Fortunately, the good points vastly outweigh any bad, resulting in this still being a masterful piece of work – brutal, honest, and dripping with tension, Gone Girl is a film that needs to be seen. Though probably not for date night.
Words by Samantha King