“Come home Amy…I dare you…”
If you are yet to see Gone Girl or have somehow missed the countless critiques and commentaries upon it’s release, here is another, eight months late.
Having shamefully not read Gillian Flynn’s hugely successful novel, the mere mention of David Fincher being attached as director was enough to garner my interest for one of 2014’s most anticipated films. After producing and developing television shows for Netflix and HBO, Fincher returned again to direct an adaption of a novel that you could not scroll through your Instagram feed without seeing. Ironically the film is about public perceptions. How relevant.
The first thing we hear is the voice of Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck. His inner monologue sounds almost sarcastic but incredibly dark;
“When I think of my wife, I always think of the back of her head. I picture cracking her lovely skull, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers. The primal questions of a marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”
And then there’s his wife Amy Elliott-Dunne, played by Rosamund Pike, head laying on his chest, she turns to give a look even colder than the films icy colour palette that has become a trademark of Fincher’s – and his long time collaborator, cinematography royalty Jeff Cronenweth – which again provides us with the most aesthetically pleasing stills. Nick’s narration helps establish the running Film Noir element that is often seen in Fincher’s pictures and is rooted within the story. The paranoid husband. The femme fatale. You’re left to wonder just how serious Nick Dunne’s thoughts were throughout. The state of their marriage comes into question. Would he cause his wife any harm?
It’s suburban America, the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. It’s early. Nick stands outside his house. His face plagued with guilt. Keep an eye out for the scene where Nick is driving his father back to his care home when he delivers a death stare as Blur Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ is heard from the stereo. Quite foreboding. I had reservations about Nick right from the beginning, this might be because I’m not at all an Affleck fan. Though, what becomes certain is Amy has gone missing. Nick returns home later in the morning to find a disturbance in their living room and after a visit from police, we quickly have a mystery on our hands. Cue the Scooby-Doo theme.
Then comes the media coverage shitstorm, something Affleck had to deal with in his personal life during his highly publicised relationship with Jennifer Lopez, which makes the casting quite fitting. Nick Dunne is established as the prime suspect and public enemy number one by Nancy Grace parodied host Ellen Abbott – played here by Missi Pyle – who provides the majority of the humour and helps re-establish Southern stereotypes.
What later becomes apparent is that this is not a straight up mystery. This is part mystery, part thriller, then straight up satire and heavy on the black comedy, which might depend on how dark your own sense of humour is. The twists and turns that come in the second and third act may have hurt the film’s ending which wasn’t completely satisfactory upon first viewing. Now after a few watches and amid rumours that Flynn could pen a sequel, it may have been warranted.
Regardless, I rate Gone Girl highly overall based on it’s incredibly raw screenplay adapted by Flynn and in particular Rosamund Pike’s performance as ‘Amazing’ Amy which was nothing short of outstanding and worthy of more than just an Oscar nomination. Tyler Perry’s performance as the coolest, take no shit attorney on the planet, Tanner Bolt added a little extra to the final third. Another impressive minimalistic score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that for the most part dictated the pacing and for long periods of time went unnoticed as it was so imbedded in the scenes. So much so that it really made you notice when the most graphic imagery was on screen, Reznor and Ross’s accompanying soundtrack really took you further down the spiral. The absurdness, in particular of the third act became borderline parody on such a satirical level. A little bit too Desperate Housewives-esque rather than what I hoped for with more of an American Beauty vibe.
Gary McIlhagga – Follow me on Twitter