Gone Girl was absolutely — to borrow a word from the film — *amazing*. The story is superb, supplemented with top-notch acting by Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck, who play Amy Dunne, the missing wife in the film, and Nick Dunne, the husband suspected of having a hand in her disappearance. It’s a cynical and disturbing look at modern day marriage: why people fall in love, what people expect of their partner, and what happens when the bloom has fallen off the rose and couples become tired of each other. I was astounded by the lengths that the characters were willing to go to. Nick and Amy look like your typical married couple, but behind closed doors, they are no-holds-barred *messed up* to the nth degree.
I cannot heap enough praise on the devilish twists and turns of the story. No wonder the book was a bestseller! The story is at the heart of what makes it work, and David Fincher brought it to screen perfectly — with the help of the author Gillian Flynn, who was also the screenwriter — lavishing on it stylistic flourishes and a moody atmosphere that drew out the mystery, thrills, and psychological mindf**kery, paired with a dreamy but chilling score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The movie could have ended halfway through with the twist, and it would still have been great, but it continued building and building into a “HOLY HELL I DID *NOT* SEE THAT COMING” finale.
Gosh, Rosamund Pike is good! Her pale, ice-cold features are an unparalleled match for her character, and Ben Affleck is marvellous too as the seemingly clueless husband who at the same time looks completely capable of murdering his wife. I have fallen in love with Ben Affleck after this movie — I liked him in this even better than in Argo or The Town.
Even the supporting characters are outstanding: Carrie Coon, who plays Nick Dunne’s twin sister, supporting him even when in doubt of his innocence; Kim Dickens, the detective investigating the enigmatic disappearance of his wife; Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt, the savvy lawyer guiding Nick through the media circus and the investigation with wry humour; Neil Patrick Harris, as Amy Dunne’s obsessive former lover (seriously, poor guy!); the caricaturistic media personalities played by the tabloid newswoman Missi Pyle and the Diane Sawyer-like Sela Ward, etc. They, like the audience, were pulled where the story (re: the media coverage) went, and the end result of that turns the film into also a criticism of the 24-hour news cycle where news is no longer truth-seeking, but sensationalism.
A lot of the critics think the film didn’t stick its ending. Maybe a little bit? After the completely shocking thing that [REDACTED] does to [REDACTED], the movie slows down noticeably and sputters to a stop. Even so, it effectively made me feel terrible for Nick by the end of it, and because of that slow denouement, the feeling lingered.
I’ll probably come back and revisit the movie again in a few months, with spoilers this time round, because there is no way to talk about the movie properly without revealing everything. I need to rewatch it with subtitles, because it was quite mumbly at points, and also because the story, I reiterate, is brilliant. Not just that, the dialogue is sharp and intelligently eviscerating too, as the characters use their words to critique and tear into each other, whether to their face or behind their backs, that you really need to pay close attention to capture all that sardonic wit.
I’ve admired David Fincher ever since Fight Club blew my mind out of the water — I can still remember the EXACT moment of my mindf**k, watching the film on late night TV with my brother in 2002, trying to unscramble my brain and make sense of all we had seen in the film up till that point. Gone Girl is definitely near the top of his oeuvre, and one of my favourite films this year.