Unsettling. Intense. Disturbing. Twisted. These are all words I would use to describe David Fincher’s latest directorial outing – Gone Girl. Not words uncommon when discussing the Fincher back catalogue it has to be said. He was, after all, the guy who bought us Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box in Se7en, the club we can’t talk about in Fight Club, and the messy birth of a phenomenon in The Social Network. Here he has a most excellent head start in the general direction of disturbia with Gillian Flynn’s brilliant novel, to which this film stays generally true.
Gone Girl is the dissection of a not so happy marriage. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home one day to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing under suspicious circumstances. As inevitably happens, the police soon begin to suspect Nick to be the one to blame, and through a series of flashbacks we begin to see the true nature of what on the surface appears a happy marriage. And that’s all you need to know – the less you know the better. Of course if, like me, you have already devoured the book, you may already know what is going to happen. But that makes the film no less gripping (especially if, like me, you have the memory of a goldfish and can’t remember exactly what happens…). And for those of you going in without having read it? Well, you do indeed have a treat in store.
This film succeeds where many fail, making me care about characters who really aren’t that nice. Generally I have a real problem with this – my sister and I still have furious arguments about the merits of the film Closer which she loved and I hated, simply because I disliked the characters and didn’t care what happened to them. Here, though, Fincher does what he has done countless times before, executes some brilliant casting and provides enough layering and colour in the characters that their every move interests you, even if you are kind of glad to see the back of them when you leave the cinema.
I have to say I wasn’t stoked initially about the casting choices – I pictured the couple younger and also didn’t think Pike had the dramatic chops to play such a complex character. But she well and truly proved me wrong here – Bond girl she may be but she is definitely destined for bigger things. And Affleck continues to impress me as he matures, even if he does have the Clooney problem of always being a little bit the same guy. The rest of the cast was also superb, especially Kim Dickens as the local detective, and Neil Patrick Harris in an uncharacteristically serious role.
But the plaudits for this effort well and truly rest with Fincher and Flynn. I for one cannot wait to see the adaptations of the latter’s other two novels – Dark Places (with Charlize Theron as the lead) and Sharp Objects (not yet cast, and may only be a TV movie – though off the back of this I would be surprised if that stays the case). And Fincher leapt to near the top of my fave directors list with The Social Network and remains there off the back of this. Although this film was far more sombre and disturbing than the Facebook story, it still has that distinctive Finchian feel – helped along by an excellent score by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor. 4 multi-coloured M&Ms for this flick. Go see it before it has gone.