Jack Woodward reviews ‘Gone Girl’ – the psychotic thriller of the season.
Gone Girl is a film of layers. On the surface, it’s a straight-forward, tense tale of a husband’s search for his missing wife. It plays with the audience every step of the way: why does Nick seem to know so little about Amy’s personal life? Why does he crack a smile at the press conference announcing her disappearance? Why does Amy’s diary end on the sentence ‘This man may truly kill me’? It builds subtle doubts, one on top of the other, but Nick maintains his innocence in a consistent, and oddly believable way. This sense of ambiguity is repeated throughout the film, and then all of a sudden, you are immediately drawn into the darkness swelling underneath.
Gillian Flynn, the original mastermind behind the narrative of Gone Girl, also wrote the screenplay, making the writing of the film naturally excellent. She twists and turns the plot in a number genuinely unexpected directions, allowing it to stand out from other thrillers. As is expected from Fincher, the dialogue is sharp and fast, however he also manages to keep the mood from getting too murky with touches of dark humour. It’s definitely one of the strongest thrillers that comes to mind in recent years; so many others fall into the trap of a predictable, generic plot, and thankfully, Gone Girl has been able to avoid this.
The films success is also aided by its impeccably chosen cast. Ben Affleck shines as the imperfect husband, and Rosamund Pike steals the scenes as an intelligent character who is far more than she seems. Neil Patrick-Harris is shockingly creepy as an old ex, Carrie Coon is extremely likeable as the supportive twin sister, and Tyler Perry is brilliant as the smart defence lawyer. It’s full of strong, faultless performances from across the board, and they perfectly execute the material they’ve been given. The other collaborators behind the scenes are careful, wise additions too. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross return once again to the helm, producing the soundtrack for the film. This is their third time working with Fincher, and the sounds they’ve come up with are far more subtle, yet no less menacing. An unnerving, distorted fog horn comes to mind.
That being said, Gone Girl isn’t one of Fincher’s finest outings. Despite its high entertainment value and absorbing plot, the editing feels surprisingly rough, employing many abrupt fades to black that somewhat mess with the pacing. Additionally, the mix of a suburban setting and polished cinematography ends up giving the film an expensive television feel, rather than that of a blockbuster film. And much like the book, it has an ending that works thematically, but feels anticlimactic compared to everything that’s occurred before it. That being said, I don’t believe that any of this makes Gone Girl a thriller of any less brilliance, and I highly recommend it to anybody looking to for a cinema outing suggestion this weekend.