When my partner asked if we could go and watch ‘Gone Girl’ at the cinema, I thought we were off to see another rom-com. I was horribly wrong, and as a result, horribly underprepared for the suspense-filled, gripping events which were to unfold. There are enough twists and turns through the course of the plot to form the basis for at least three films. Indeed, there is a subtle division of the narrative into different sections, distorting the temporal structure and presenting the viewer with both sides of the leading characters’ perspectives. ‘Gone Girl’ has an underlying whodunit, mystery tone, which is eventually appeased with a resolution, but only after enduring an intense and shocking crescendo.
On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home to an empty house, with his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) nowhere to be seen. Nick fears the worst when he spots signs of a struggle in the house and contacts the police, who start a missing persons search for his beloved wife. Their perfect marriage soon comes under scrutiny from the police and the media begin to demonise Nick, especially when his dark, sordid secrets are revealed. With public perceptions swiftly altered, many begin to ask the question, did Nick Dunne murder his wife? Truth is, Amy knows everything about Nick’s betrayals and has become disillusioned with the crumbling marriage. Amy escapes with a new identity, whilst elaborately framing Nick for her murder. As the media frenzy escalates, Nick shrewdly figures out Amy’s plot and lures her back with his televised declaration of ‘love’. The obsessive, unstable Amy does come home, but has even more deranged plans upon her return, which make it clear to Nick that their marriage is far from over.
Ben Affleck adds to his growing collection of impressive acting displays in recent years, with ‘Gone Girl’ right up there amongst his best performances. Nick Dunne is such a versatile and constantly changing character, and Affleck portrays this brilliantly, equally believable as the faultless husband and the villainous adulterer. This is a great performance, but arguably nothing special, at least not when compared to the accomplished performance from Rosamund Pike. As Amy, Pike helps to create a female lead character as good as any other in my opinion, one whose character development is a shining light in an already impeccable production. The depiction of a psychopathic, twisted, scorned wife is terrifyingly convincing and is something which will haunt me for a long time, enough to instil in me a genuine fear of the entire female race. Rosamund Pike would be my personal choice for the lead female Oscar at this year’s ceremony, for the incredible physical and emotional transformation she produces and a fantastically crazy performance which is executed as perfectly as her character’s bitter plan.
‘Gone Girl’ is difficult to watch, not least for the lasting effect of the intense and graphic scenes, but ultimately this film is simply amazing and satisfyingly conclusive. The journey we are taken on as a viewer is one of plentiful twists and thrills, embellished by director David Fincher, who takes us back and forth through the troubled marriage of Amy and Nick, using flashbacks and impressive editing choices. The retrospective privilege we are treated to through this technique, has the effect of undermining the happy couple we see at the start, as we witness the events which lead to the deterioration of the marriage. A rom-com this is certainly not, with any romantic themes quickly descending into the dark depths of a thrilling, mystery film. ‘Gone Girl’ is a film which will keep you guessing throughout, and indeed long after, until you can’t help yourself but watch it all over again.
Directed by: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike