Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see in Gone Girl. I was expecting a conventionally good thriller. I was not expecting a twisted, macabre and terrifying tale of the dangers that lurk in the minds of the most normal people.
Simply described, it is about Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) whose wife goes missing on their anniversary. His wife is Amy Elliot-Dunne (Rosamund Pike), a muse for her mother’s highly successful children’s book series, and someone who appears like a well-adjusted, but slightly elitist, intellectual. However, deep beneath her seemingly normal exterior lies a person who is not all she appears. Affleck gives probably his best performance yet, playing the man who goes from grieving husband to murder suspect just based on media coverage of the event. However, it is Rosamund Pike who gives one of the most incredible performances of the year. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but her wide-eyed intensity, coupled with her angelic features make her performance all the more terrifying.
There are also two actors in this film that you would least expect to try out serious, gritty drama like this – the eternally likable Neil Patrick Harris, who plays the perverted Desi Collings, and Tyler Perry, who puts the granny outfit away and gives an impressive performance as Nick’s attorney. Carrie Coon makes an explosive big screen debut as the street-smart, tough-as-nails Margo who will defend her brother to the ends of the earth.
David Fincher is a very divisive director in my eyes – while there is no doubt that he is talented, he seemed to have been playing it a little safe lately. Gone Girl returns him to his very edgy roots, while allowing him to make a slick, dark thriller that serves as a throwback of sorts to 1980s domestic thrillers. It is filmed beautifully, and Fincher uses the talents of his actors to bring out the story in superb ways. Gillian Flynn also does an amazing job at adapting her own novel, and what could have been considered a very basic crime novel turned into a gritty, scary thriller about obsession and insanity.
Gone Girl makes some very serious commentary on marriage. Amy’s diary, which takes the form of narration, shows a perfect marriage slowly going south. The Dunne marriage, at the surface, is a typical one – normal couple who face problems such as financial strain, family issues and the inevitable talk of having children. The marriage scenes itself are tense enough to cause your blood pressure to rise, nevermind the incredibly uncomfortable investigation of Amy’s disappearance.
Like I said in my review of Zodiac, David Fincher may not be the greatest living director, but he does tend to be able to make something very special. Gone Girl is legitimately scary fare – its realism and the fact that this could certainly happen makes it unsettling. It is by far one of Fincher’s best, and Rosamund Pike gives one of the best performances of the year. It does drag along a little bit at the end, and it could’ve been made a little tighter, but the suspense and mystery of this film, filled with twists and turns and shocks, makes it one of the best of the year.