Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Connie Coons, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens
Written by: (also based on the novel) Gillian Flynn
Running Time: 149 mins
Release date: 2nd October 2014
This is going to be the hardest review I have ever written because I want to tell you everything about Gone Girl and yet the fun of this superb thriller is knowing as little as possible (unless you have read the book, then you’ll know everything already). I didn’t know the book and I knew very little about the plot. All I knew is that it was one of the eagerly anticipated films of the year and it didn’t disappoint in any way. In fact, it could well be the thriller of the year.
Nick Dunne returns to his home one day to find his house in disarray and his wife, Amy, missing. Concerned for her well-being and convinced she has been abducted, he contacts the police and the hunt begins, although the police, led by Detective Rhonda Boney, believes there is some amiss, especially after finding clues around the house and blood stains where there shouldn’t be blood stains. The hunt suddenly takes a darker turn with fingers pointing towards Nick as a possible murderer.
Director David Fincher has taken the hugely successful best seller and conjured up some cinematic magic. For two and a half hours, he will have you hooked to the screen. His skill and craftsmanship as a director is fully on display. It takes a film maker of great confidence to treat a oft-used story line of abduction and make it into something gripping, shocking and, more surprising, funny.
Using flashbacks, voice-overs and plenty of fades-to-black, he masterfully drops a shock here, a tasty clue there, a massive twist smack back in the middle as well as a perfectly satisfying ending. This, however, is more than just a juicy thriller but a satire on the media, especially those journalists who will speculate for their own self-importance and how that same media can turn you from hero to villain in a split second.
What he also manages to do, with the help from Gillian Flynn’s beautifully crafted script, from her own source material, is have characters that grow and develop throughout. These aren’t just flat, uninteresting people but fully rounded and growing all the time. You watch as Nick starts off down at heel as the out-of-work writer who has to take a job teaching, even though he still seems out of luck, go from the innocent to the accused in the blink of an eye, just because the media says so.
Thrown into the pot to help capture the sometimes nail-biting tension, is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s hypnotic and strangely mesmerizing soundtrack, made up of a series of sounds that flood the screen, never really giving any clues to where the film is going. It’s an inspired use of music that, while you won’t be humming the theme tune, will stick in your head long after the screen has gone black.
The performances are spot-on too. Ben Affleck has been accused in the past as failing as an actor (and fans of Batman are still unhappy at him being chosen) but he can put silent his critics because here he is superb. One moment cocky and self-assured, the next lost in world of confusion, he brings many things to the table and they all work. We know he can deliver as a director (one word: Argo), now we know he can do the same as an actor. Long gone are the days of Gigli!
The supporting cast is equally good, especially Carrie Coon as his twin sister, Margo. She goes through all the emotional pains, the lies and deceits that Nick refuses to accept and it is a career-making performance. She handles herself extremely well with the strong cast. Nice to see Tyler Perry in a decent film at last and doing a good job as lawyer Tanner Bolt and a very different role for Neil Patrick Harris.
For me, the star of the film is Rosamund Pike. It’s been a long time coming but here is a star-making performance. You will be hugely and pleasantly surprised at her, giving the kind performance that screams out award winner. It is so great to see her finally becoming more than just second fiddle to a big name and if the roles don’t come in after this, then there is no justice in the world.
Gone Girl will have you from the very first frame to the very last. It isn’t often I come out of a screening and want to tell the world to see a film but I have to do it. This won’t disappoint. It will shock (one scene will have you squirming) but it will entertain as well. Years to come, when Fincher is remembered, they will say Seven, Zodiac, Fight Club and this.