Gone Girl (2014)
***This is going to be a shorter review than usual. Due to the twists and turns in this film, it is very difficult not to include any spoilers for those who haven’t seen it. I have decided not to, so I am writing this with both metaphorical hands tied behind my back.***
David Fincher is an accomplished film-maker. Anyone who enjoyed ‘Se7en’, ‘Fight Club’, and many of his other films will confirm that. So when he releases a new crime thriller, you can bet I will want to watch it. It took me a while, but I finally did get to see it, just last night. I have never read the book it is based on, but the story is compelling, just from a synopsis. A young professional couple, leading a prosperous and happy life in New York City. The recession hits, and jobs are lost. Life begins to look not quite as rosy. Then news comes from Missouri, the man’s home state. His mother is dying, and needs him to come home and help. They sell up, and relocate to small town mid-west. Using what little money they have left, he and his twin sister buy a bar in the town, and go about their lives as best they can. The wife is left at the new home, regretting the change in fortunes, but determined to rediscover their happiness.
Then one day, he comes home from work, and his wife has gone. The circumstances look suspicious, and it doesn’t take the local police too long to start to focus on the husband as a suspect; helped by a series of clues and some implicating evidence. To make matters worse, his wife’s family are influential writers, and they arrive to help galvanize the local community into a search for their missing daughter. They have always resented the small-town boy who married their brilliant, perfect daughter, and make no secret of their scorn for him. The media gets involved, and soon his life is in the spotlight, and his every move dogged by either the police or the press.
That’s about it. To tell much more about the story would undoubtedly spoil your enjoyment. But I won’t leave it there, as you have to know what I thought of it, don’t you? Well, I thought it was very good indeed. Fincher delivers in his usual style, and the plot keeps us more-or-less guessing right until the very unusual (and therefore satisfying) ending. Rosamund Pike is outstanding in the role of Amy, the ‘Gone Girl’ of the title. She has to play the character as two very different people, and she does so with aplomb. Carrie Coon as the twin sister Margo makes her supporting role into that of a co-star, and is completely convincing at all times. Then there is the weary detective, Rhonda. She won’t believe all the hype, and sticks to what her instinct tells her. Kim Dickens enlarges a character we have seen so many times before, and changes it into something we haven’t really seen before.
This is a film about excellent acting from women. They steal all the scenes, and drive the action too. Mind you, given that the lead male character, Nick, is played by the wooden and generally unwatchable Ben Affleck, that wasn’t too hard a task. I fail to see why he is ever cast in a film, when there are so may better actors around who can actually act. (OK, Affleck fans, do your worst…)
This film is all about twists too. Just when you thought you had worked it out, it turns on its head and leaves you guessing again. Who? What? Why? How did that happen? I confess I did see the ‘big reveal’ coming, but it took a while and I enjoyed the ride, even when I was proved right. This is grown-up film making, shot in luxurious wide screen, and full of atmosphere. Even the bit-part players are just right, from the creepy ex-boyfriend, to the white trash neighbour. It confirms what I already knew. David Fincher knows how to craft an enjoyable and often thrilling film, and he did very well to cast Rosamund Pike too.
Shame about Affleck though.
Here’s a trailer.