David Fincher’s latest film Gone Girl, adapted by Gillian Flynn from her bestselling novel, is a deliciously dark, cynical portrayal of – in flashback – a marriage in meltdown. In between flashbacks, events in the present show beleaguered Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), working with an increasingly suspicious community and police investigation to help find his missing wife Amy (Rosamund Pike). The question is, did he kill her? Or is something far more twisted and sinister taking place?
It is impossible to review Gone Girl in any depth without revealing major spoilers, suffice to say it contains terrific central performances – especially from Pike who I have been a huge fan of for years. This is unquestionably her greatest role to date, and I would be surprised if she didn’t get an Oscar nomination. It is also worth noting a couple of the very good supporting performances. Firstly Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister Margo (with whom he amusingly plays the “Game of Life” board game in an early scene), and Tyler Perry’s turn as high flying lawyer Tanner Bolt.
I suspect Fincher’s assured direction and Flynn’s screenplay will also be Oscar nominated. I have not read the novel, but apparently the screenplay is more darkly comic, something which I particularly appreciated. That said, I doubt this film will be something everyone finds funny. All of which brings me to the usual warnings about very strong language, bloody violence and sex.
In one sense, Gone Girl is nothing particularly original. There are shades of Hitchcock (Vertigo, Marnie and Dial M for Murder in particular) and classic film noir throughout. One is reminded not only of Double Indemnity but also lesser known noir gems such as Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street. Other key texts this draws inspiration from include Jagged Edge, The Talented Mr Ripley, John Dahl’s The Last Seduction and even a classic Sherlock Holmes short story, The Problem of Thor Bridge. However, what makes Gone Girl feel interesting and contemporary is the way it raises issues of media voyeurism, marital stereotypes, class snobbery, misogyny, infidelity, hypocrisy and deception in an entertaining and thought provoking way. In particular, the dispiriting modern trend of managing and presenting our personalities – the best versions of ourselves, if you like – is dissected with an unrelenting scalpel of scrutiny.
Ultimately, I suspect the issues in the marriage between Nick and Amy will strike a chord with many viewers, even though the problems here are exaggerated to the nth degree. Admittedly this will be way too strong for some to stomach, but for those with the temperament for it, I highly recommend the film. Perhaps just not as a romantic date movie.