Gone Girl may well be the trickiest film I ever have to review. I’m sure I am in good company. How can you talk much about an intricately-plotted, fast-paced film without ruining the constantly shocking twists and turns for those that haven’t seen it?
Published only two years ago, it was no surprise that Gillian Flynn’s bestselling phenomenon Gone Girl would make it’s way to the screen so quickly. Ever since it was announced that Flynn herself would be writing the script, David Fincher would direct, Reese Witherspoon would be among the producers and that an impressive cast would star, the hype has been in overdrive.
And the film doesn’t disappoint, with the action being ramped up from the start. Nick arrives back to his house with his front door wide open and a living room showing evidence of an apparent struggle. Amy is missing and everyone is bewildered as to where she could be and who could have taken her.
The hunt to find her is every bit as tense and gripping as you would expect. Helped out by fast-pacing and sharp editing, Fincher masterfully generates a claustrophobic feel, of being stared and scrutinised at every turn of events. Flynn’s script enables us to sense the anxieties and mixed emotions of characters within a small town instantly thrown into a national spotlight, unsure of who to trust and what to believe. The role of the media is one of the most fascinating aspects of the film, and it is effectively making us a character and asking us how we would act. It really is a reminder that in the 21st century, we all have the notorious possibility of becoming a 24 hour news sensation. We can all all have the realms of our past and personality traits thrown into everyone’s living room and seemingly nowhere to hide.
But even with such a great premise and great work behind the camera, ultimately this is a film that relies heavily on the main two stars. Pike is a revelation, fully embracing such a complex, intelligent and vulnerable character. It is performances like this that get you entry into the A-list bracket and star turns at Oscar ceremonies. Affleck is superb too, a mature performance showcasing the awkwardness, bitterness and fear that reside within Nick. There is strong support from a cast including Carrie Coon as Nick’s bewildered sister, Kim Dickens as a detective caught between trusting the evidence and her instinct and Tyler Perry as the suave lawyer who knows just how to play the game.
The film’s only real drawback is the performance of Neil Patrick Harris, best known for his memorable, and Emmy award-winning role, of Barney Stinson in How I met your Mother. Understandably keen to showcase a wider, and non-comic range, his performance of Amy’s former boyfriend Desi Collins lacks the presence set by Pike and Affleck. While far from disastrous, Harris’ flat portrayal fails to fully maximise just how creepy Collins is and the motives behind them.
A welcome addition to the high-profile and highly anticipated thriller adapted to the big screen, Gone Girl works provides all kind of provocative questions about society, about family, and most importantly, about relationships. The writer Stephen Chbosky has said that we get the love we think we deserve. The film, like the book, brilliantly challenges us to think about the consequences when we push too hard.