David Fincher has a formidable filmography under his belt. With films like Se7en, Fight Club and The Social Network, among others, earning him numerous plaudits, it was no surprise when his 2014 film, based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, began to spark a great deal of hype. I haven’t yet read the book so my review will not be one that compares the two, it will be an honest look at the film and the film alone. I wasn’t lucky enough to have the time to see the movie in cinemas last year, so I was there with my pennies in my palm on the Blu-ray release of the film, here in the UK.
First of all, I think it’s important to tell you that my opinions of Fincher’s’ films are very mixed. I’m not someone who loves everything that the acclaimed director puts his mind to. The Social Network took me a couple of turns to enjoy. I am yet to see Zodiac. I loved The Game, which is one of his lesser well-received title. I didn’t think much to Fight Club when I saw it. Yeah, unpopular opinions, but opinions nonetheless. I was, then, unsure of how I would respond to Gone Girl. The cast was appealing to me. Ben Affleck, an actor who I liked back when he was in Kevin Smith flicks, and have grown to like much more since his career took a turn upwards when he took to directing classy films like Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo. Affleck is a great actor and one who, due to some poor career choices over a decade ago, seems to get dumped on and under-appreciated. I like him, and was excited to see his performance here. Rosamund Pike (The World’s End) is an actress I was familiar with but hadn’t seen give a deep performance, so that intrigued me too. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) was also an intriguing casting, someone I have only seen in television vehicles, like the aforementioned HIMYM, and Doogie Howser, M.D. I was interested to see how he would do in a thriller like this. The cast, along with Fincher as director, and the novel-author, Flynn, on board as the writer of the screenplay (something I always enjoy seeing occur in adaptations), brought great anticipation upon me prior to sitting to watch the film.
The story is a deep one, and one with many twists and turns are revelations, so many in fact that to point them all out here and reveal them would be to do an injustice as a movie reviewer, to you, the potential viewer. Now, if you’ve seen the film, then you know of what I speak, and if you haven’t, then rest assured that I will do my best to avoid spoilers here. It is the type of film that really works wonders if you don’t know what you’re stepping into, like was the case with me, experiencing the stories intricate turns in the road as it goes on. Nick Dunne (Affleck) heads home, after what appears to be a hard day, to find a table overturned, broken glass on the floor, and the appearance of an apparent struggle in his house, and his wife, Amy (Pike) is nowhere to be found. Nick calls the police who respond, examine the scene, and immediately open an investigation, and based on what they’ve seen, class Amy Dunne as a missing person. With his world unravelling around him, the police delving into his personal life and asking him questions that make him increasingly uncomfortable, and with only his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) to help and support him, Nick finds himself under extreme scrutiny and pressure, as he attempts to find out what has happened to his wife. The story, which unwinds and reveals details that shock and open more questions as it proceeds, bringing us, the viewer, into the lives of Nick and Amy Dunne, the people they know, and their relationship.
I don’t want to go much deeper into things, I feel that saying much more will hint at too much, or give something away, and I don’t want to do that. What I will say is, I urge you to find a way to watch this movie now. It has, in the two occasions I’ve watched it (in the past two days) become my favourite Fincher film to date. Time will tell if it remains there, but I was truly blown away by this movie, and by the performances of the cast. Rosamund Pike, as Amy Dunne, was absolutely incredible, and any award nominations she received are completely deserving, she was unbelievable here, just a joy to watch. Affleck did a fantastic job too, as did the whole cast, to be honest. The music, from the collaborative team of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, fit so well with the dark, gloomy and grey appearance of the film, and the downplayed and uncomfortable tone set by the brilliant direction of Fincher, who has proven himself as one of the true great directors of the modern age. The writing was excellent, and there was so much more to the story than I had expected before walking into it. I was just in awe, from the opening second, until the credits rolled 140 minutes later. Just phenomenal stuff.
I had previously, at the end of 2014, collaborated with my fellow Cinephiliacs, here on this site, to compile my favourite films list of 2014, ten movies I considered the best I’d seen. I hadn’t seen Gone Girl when I compiled my list, and now, a couple of months later, I would definitely have put this one high up on the list. A film worthy of the hype, I can’t recommend it enough. Intense yet with moments of dark humour that I didn’t expect, with a cloudy murmur and undercurrent of impending catastrophe that ups the tension until it’s end, this is what a book to film adaptation should be. Brilliant.