Director David Fincher’s mind must be a dark, stylish place… That is, if his mind mirrors the movies he makes. Se7en, Zodiac, and The Game show that murder-mysteries are Fincher’s wheel house, and now the director is back with Gone Girl—the film adaptation of the super popular book of the same name. Gone Girl gives Fincher a chance once again to dive into a story fueled by an unconventional crime—and the movie goes to show that Fincher hasn’t even begun to peak in his film-making abilities. Gone Girl is a totally engaging story that sucks you in with intrigue, surprise, dread and even some touches of comedy. Dark comedy, naturally.
Throughout the entirety of the film, I was kept in a perpetual state of self-interrogation, always questioning not only what the film presented me with, but the assumptions I began to draw as well. This wasn’t due to cheap gimmicks used to force the movie on its head, it was a result of the calculated and exacting dissection Gillian Flynn practices on the incredibly multi-facetted and fully-formed characters of Amy and Nick Dunne over the course of the nearly two and a half hour movie. This is as much of a compliment to Flynn’s writing and Fincher’s directing as it is to the incredible acting in the film.
Ben Affleck (Nick Dunne) turns in a remarkable and understated performance as a total sleaze ball who turns out to be far more capable than he lets on. The real blowout of the movie seems to be the “Gone Girl” herself, Rosamund Pike, who plays Amy Dunne with an incredible amount of complexity composed of snark, intelligence, fragility, and calculation. The film presents both of the characters as simplistic, pretty faces who nearly represent the tired couple characters in TV sitcoms—Affleck as the oafish, lazy husband with a temper and Pike as the delicate, groomed, charming wife, but as soon as those meta-caricatures become tired, the characters’ familiar masks begin to erode.
The film seems to take joy in stringing you along and shaking you up for having typical assumptions, as the entire first half of the story works to set up what seems to be a “who-done-it” mystery that follows the formula of so many mystery films of the past (including some of Fincher’s) but turns into a completely different story once the viewer starts to become too comfortable with the film. At that point, the story clamps on like a bear trap and the characters begin to blossom and transform and transform in a wholly satisfying way.
Gone Girl took me back to the same feeling I experienced upon finishing Se7en—a feeling of revulsion, of horror, and deep thought. Since walking out of the theater, Gone Girl has caused me to re-evaluate my thoughts on our society’s obsession with vilifying, on our public personas, and on marriage as a whole. I’ve been conflicted ever since seeing Gone Girl, as the movie is by no means light, popcorn munching type fare—but I still have a nagging desire to re-watch the movie. Alone.
Far away from any would-be spouses.