“A truly mysterious atmosphere that runs right throughout the film”
As missing person movies go, Ben Affleck and David Fincher all know to well how to deliver the mystery and mayhem surrounding them. Affleck led the way in his directing debut with Gone Baby Gone about the disappearance of a four-year old child, whereas Fincher’s twisty Zodiac attempted to hunt down a serial killer over several years with the ultimate goal always far exceeding our main characters. Now the two embark on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel, with the author on script writing duty, that is just as clever and convoluted as anything come before. But maybe the female lead: fierce, relentless and daring to dream big in this story might just steal the show from these two stalwarts of cinema.
Writer Nick Dunne (played by Ben Affleck) wakes up one early July morning to find his wife Amy (played by Rosamund Pike) missing from their small town home in Missouri. As we see their awkward relationship thrive through flashbacks, and with no clues or witnesses to clear him, the preying eyes of the nation and the police force slowly begin to point the finger of blame at Nick. But an intricate thread of lies, deceit and hidden truths of Amy’s whereabouts slowly begin to unravel to show the true extent of her disappearance.
It certainly has a bit of everything from Fincher’s previous work, yes Zodiac, but most notably the dynamic of his Tattoo remake, there’s the investigatory aspect as seen in Seven, and the occasional zip along of The Social Network. But using the writing of the book’s author, Fincher’s movie seems to be a more roundly written piece that excels itself even higher than his visual ticks and flashy tropes. Flynn’s mix of care free dialogue between the two leads, with the detailed psychology of protagonists you’d find in your basic crime thriller adds up to create a truly mysterious atmosphere that runs right throughout the film. It almost seems the most un-Fincher like Fincher film he’s made, and judging by the result, god bless him for that. Dare we say, this is mainstream Fincher.
Ben Affleck is great as the absent-minded, husband to the victim character as his blasé approach to his nearest and dearest vanishing comes back to haunt him, as he effectively becomes the face of the investigation, more so than his wife. Smarmy, creepy, completely blank faced to the did he?-didn’t he? naysayers plays beautifully as that tense question never lets up for one moment. But the true star, is that of Rosamund Pike who plays Amy in such a variety of ways, from the moment of their get-together, to the point she becomes the enigma of the piece. Daring to push the character further and darker, she’s almost harking back to classic female characters of the 1940’s and 50’s when she would orchestrate her performance to the point the camera dares to look away from her. Intelligent, sassy and naïve all at once, she plays Amy to the point her audience are caught in two minds in how to feel about her decisions and choices that has led up to her disappearing from those around her.
Also the film ventures in the themes of the celebrity side of police matters. Fincher almost demonstrates how public perceptions and audience ratings almost matter more than putting the effort into solving the missing persons cases. It’s as though showing rolling news, discussion shows and lifestyle entertainment dominates even in times of immense worry and pain for victims and families. But at its heart, is a well constructed thriller that reverberates throughout with originality, style, edge of the seat tension and shock factor. Not to mention an always offbeat but brilliantly timed and subtle soundtrack from collaborator Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross.
While this maybe a brave decision to pick a perfect date movie to view with your loved one, Gone Girl is certainly Fincher’s most captivating and engaging movie in a long time. It’s narrative is played exquisitely and a film that will provide endless discussions and appeal for audiences of both genders.