Review – Gone Girl

Anyone with nuptials on the horizon may be best steering clear of David Fincher’s pitch black mystery that takes he said/she said to a whole new level.

Gone Girl may not be the director's finest work, but even B-grade Fincher is better than most

Gone Girl may not be the director’s finest work, but even B-grade Fincher is better than most

Gone Girl‘s tagline – ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ – isn’t the only thing about the film that’s devilishly ambiguous; it keeps you guessing in a manner that would have made Hitchcock proud.

That said, an increasingly ludicrous final act and a missed opportunity to properly end the film, a la The Dark Knight Rises, denies Gone Girl the status of classic Fincher.

Nick (Ben Affleck) woos Amy (Rosamund Pike) in Gone Girl

Nick (Ben Affleck) woos Amy (Rosamund Pike) in Gone Girl

Adapted by Gillian Flynn from her own bestselling novel, Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a suburbanite and bar owner (of an establishment called ‘The Bar’ no less) who reports that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. What starts out as a straightforward missing person case takes on a far grislier tone as the truth about their seemingly blissful marriage emerges and the finger of suspicion points to Nick.

Fincher has long been one of US cinema’s most accomplished exponents of stylish darkness and Gone Girl gives him plenty of material to work with.

Nick (Ben Affleck) addresses the crowd and the media in Gone Girl

Nick (Ben Affleck) addresses the crowd and the media in Gone Girl

Affleck is perfectly cast as Nick, an everyday middle-class American who seemingly lucks out when he woos the beautiful Amy. The film spends its first act cutting between the spiralling events of Amy’s disappearance and flashbacks to their marriage, which gradually dissolves from romantic bliss (a moment when the two stroll past a bakery through a sugary mist is wonderfully photographed) to mistrust, fear and acrimony.

The film works best when it’s keeping you guessing as to which narrator is the most unreliable; whether it be the words written down by Amy in her diary which serves as the flashback device, or the story Nick tells tenacious Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and his twin sister Margo (a cracking turn by TV actor Carrie Coon in her feature debut).

Missing..? Amy (Rosamund Pike) in Gone Girl

Missing..? Amy (Rosamund Pike) in Gone Girl

Perhaps the most pernicious narrator of all, though, is the mainstream media and the film is as merciless as Missi Pyle’s cable TV host in its depiction of just how lurid it can be. It may be relatively easy to lambast the tackiness of so much of what passes as ‘news’ media, but it plays as important a character in the film as Nick and Amy and ultimately serves to define who they are to the millions who tune in.

Linked to this, social media also does its bit to decide Nick’s guilt or innocence. Ghoulish ambulance chasers hang around The Bar as if it’s Dealey Plaza and one particularly pathetic figure grabs a selfie with Nick in order to dine out on the notoriety.

Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) gets to the bottom of Amy's disappearance with Nick (Ben Affleck), Amy's mother (Lisa Banes) and father (David Clennon) and fellow Detective Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) in Gone Girl

Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) gets to the bottom of Amy’s disappearance with Nick (Ben Affleck), Amy’s mother (Lisa Banes) and father (David Clennon) and fellow Detective Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) in Gone Girl

While Affleck does a solid enough job, Pike is both luminous and electric as Amy. It’s a complex role and she makes the most of her juiciest role to date with a turn that Hitch would have loved. Pike goes from knockabout romantic lead to statuesque blonde in the flick of a switch and it’s only later that it becomes clear just how much is going on beneath the surface when she casts a simple glance towards her husband.

Meanwhile, Trent Reznor’s soundtrack, although not as memorable as his Oscar-winning work on Fincher’s The Social Network, does have its moments, most notably in one eye-watching scene in the film’s home stretch.

Gone Girl may not be the director’s finest work, but even B-grade Fincher is better than most.

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38 comments

  1. theipc · October 2, 2014

    While I love you and your boobs, I didn’t read this yet as I haven’t read the book and I’m going to see this Saturday.

    • Three Rows Back · October 2, 2014

      I love my boobs too. I was very careful not to give anything away; pisses me off when two bit writers basically splurge the whole plot.

      • theipc · October 2, 2014

        Like me!

      • Three Rows Back · October 2, 2014

        You successful read between the lines there bud…

      • theipc · October 2, 2014

        “Two Bit” was the Tell.

  2. le0pard13 · October 2, 2014

    Looking forward to this. Fine review that only has me itching to screen the film.

    • Three Rows Back · October 2, 2014

      Muchos gracias! It genuinely had me guessing which is pretty refreshing.

      • le0pard13 · October 2, 2014

        Remember seeing the film (based on the Scott Turow novel), Presumed Innocent?

      • Three Rows Back · October 2, 2014

        I do. It’s been a while but I see where you’re going there. Alan J. Pakula; what a director.

  3. sati · October 2, 2014

    I cannot wait for this. I loved the story in the book, from beginning to the end, so I won’t share your issues with the way the story goes. Glad to read such praise for Pike, I cannot imagine anyone else as Amy.

    • Three Rows Back · October 2, 2014

      Thanks for the feedback Sati. I hadn’t read the book or watched the trailer so went into this very open minded. I hear the film deviates from the book a little so you may be surprised I don’t know. Pike is fantastic; a real career making performance.

  4. CMrok93 · October 2, 2014

    Good review. Not Fincher’s best, but still an exciting piece to watch nonetheless.

  5. fernandorafael · October 3, 2014

    Great review. I can’t wait to see this! Loved the book.

  6. MovieManJackson · October 3, 2014

    So ready for this one. If I don’t watch this weekend first thing Monday for sure Good review!

  7. Tom · October 3, 2014

    Excellent review man, I am really eager to dive into this one, with or without my knowledge of the book. 🙂

    • Three Rows Back · October 6, 2014

      I’m eager to hear your view mate. I had no knowledge of the book either. Cheers mate.

  8. Pingback: Gone Girl | The Soul of the Plot
  9. ruth · October 6, 2014

    Great review Mark! I have yet to see it but it’ll get top marks from me, though there are some parts that wasn’t quite resolved for me. I’ll mention that in the spoiler section on my review.

    • ruth · October 6, 2014

      Ooops I meant to say I have yet to REVIEW it, but I did see it Friday night 😉

    • Three Rows Back · October 6, 2014

      I tried to stay away from spoilers although it’s difficult isn’t it for this one. Thanks as always Ruth!

  10. ckckred · October 7, 2014

    I’m hoping on catching this over the weekend, so I skimmed your review. I’m hoping to enjoy this, looks a lot like Fincher’s Zodiac, which in my opinion is his best work.

    • Three Rows Back · October 10, 2014

      Yeah, right there with you mate. Zodiac is numero uno for me too.

  11. Writer Loves Movies · October 9, 2014

    Excellent review! I really got a lot out of this one – it’s so much more than its whodunit plot. The media satire is great and I agree that the whole movie is beautifully photographed. It probably won’t be long before I revisit this one.

    • Three Rows Back · October 10, 2014

      Thank you as always buddy. I will definitely return to this although I want to rewatch Zodiac first.

  12. Stu · October 9, 2014

    Good stuff. I’m yet to see it but hope to catch it early next week. And I’ll definitely take B-grade Fincher…if we’re talking about the same level as The Game that’ll do for me!

    • Three Rows Back · October 10, 2014

      Cheers Stu. Yeah, I think The Game gets unduly bashed. I personally liked it.

      • Stu · October 11, 2014

        Me too, cracking film. Panic Room is also underrated.

  13. Pingback: Reading List 10.10.2014 – Hyperfilm
  14. Lights Camera Reaction · November 14, 2014

    Nice review! Glad you liked it. The heart of the film is something that David Fincher makes clear and both Affleck and Pike are accustomed to with every characteristic of their performances – is that Gone Girl is in the long run, a love story, one made accurate by its contrariness.

    • Three Rows Back · November 16, 2014

      Muchos gracias and well said. It’s a very f**ked up love story, but never boring.

  15. vinnieh · December 23

    I saw this for the first time the other month and was enthralled by it. Very disturbing stuff. If you want yo read my take, here it is. https://vinnieh.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/gone-girl/

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