Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, and Patrick Fugit
by Monte Yazzie - TheCodaFilms.com
David Fincher has made a career taking audiences to dark places with bad people. In the beginning moments of Gillian Flynn’s scripted adaptation of her popular novel “Gone Girl”, a man is gentle caressing the head of a beautiful woman, the way two people in love would, however the voice-over narration concerning the situation is a violent soliloquy of hatred. Fincher meticulously expands the impressions of deceit and hatred seen in the opening and seduces the viewer into a two hour plus unsettling journey that is also completely mesmerizing.
Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) portray a fairy tale like existence, one that blossoms with the kind of flirtation and charisma that is inevitably bound to end with a storied kiss in the perfect atmosphere. A few years into marriage and the sheen of new love has dulled and problems, like a fledgling economy, puts adversity into the relationship. Survival instincts take over and difficult decisions are made uprooting the couple to the Midwest. Distances grow bigger and the once inseparable couple are now strangers living under the same roof. Then Amy disappears under circumstances that place Nick at the wrath of a media circus.
Flynn’s novel is told with a unique perspective, offering alternating discussions from the point of view of both Nick and Amy. It’s complex and would seem difficult to sustain intrigue and mystery, however in the skillful hands of David Fincher the film comes to life with a flood of harsh emotion. To explain or offer specific examples from the film would be to spoil the surprises of the multifaceted character driven narrative. Fincher’s recognizable aesthetic of color-drained scenes highlighted by a mixture of contrasted grey and blue make the film feel void of life, a design that accommodates the characters who themselves display heartless feelings and actions. It’s never an easy or pleasurable experience to watch unfold, terrible people doing terrible things, and in fact feels and emulates characteristics more akin to a horror film. It’s impressive how the film crafts the characters, painting them initially in amiable ways then revealing the composed façade. Fincher makes you root for different characters, forcing the viewer to change allegiances, yet at the core you are ultimately cheering for a different kind of villain.
Ben Affleck is great as the charming though deceitful Nick, his small-town-guy appeal is noticeable from the beginning and exploited often. Whether to redirect suspicions or emphasize trust, Nick is a pawn for the narrative transitions and Affleck executes. Rosamund Pike is exceptional. Amy is conniving, methodical, and overall intelligent. Fincher incorporates these qualities with physical changes and emotional outbursts that range from controlled to frantic. Pike strikes every note. The supporting cast is pinpoint, from Tyler Perry’s shrewd defense attorney to Kim Dickens’ discerning detective, everyone accomplishes.
David Fincher’s filmmaking is meticulously composed to keep the viewer from finding their balance. Gillian Flynn’s narrative structure accommodates the design, the score evokes an emotion of dread and despair, and the performances are near impeccable. While the film may drag just a bit in the latter half, Fincher never loses grasp but instead keeps the tone darkly entertaining and the mystery enthralling until the credits role.
Monte’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5.00