Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
Plot: Nick Dunne (Affleck) returns home to find a violent crime scene and his wife (Pike) missing, putting him in the centre of a media storm that threatens to pull apart his life.
For a film about a missing person, it is impossible for a critic not to bring up a certain point. David Fincher has been missing for a while now. This is the director who brought us Fight Club and 7even, two of the most important movies of the 90s, yet recently, he hasn’t been as prominent a voice in the cinema field. The Social Network and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo were good, but not Fincher good, never hitting the level his older classics ever did. With Gone Girl, Fincher is no longer missing. With Gone Girl, Fincher is back and stronger than ever before.
No matter what anyone says about Gone Girl, its success is mainly boiled down to the man at the director’s seat. Fincher directs this movie with the passion of a man who has been doing this for a very long time, experienced and precise with every angle and frame he creates. It is testament to Fincher’s prowess as a director that he can keep our attention unflinching, even during the slower moments of this movie. No matter where we are with the film, the tension is never lost with us, Fincher making the mundane like marriage and TV interviews tingle with a certain suspense. As Nick and Amy Dunne wander around a house together, casting small look over their shoulder at each other, the audience hold their breath, their brain screaming for answers. Gillian Flynn’s script also works well with Fincher’s style, treating us with the perfect dialogue to suit the mood. There is a lot of misplaced romance trickling through the story, but Fincher nor Flynn never lets it become cutesy. “We’re so cute I could punch us in the face!” When the movie is coasting through its opening moments, with the couple being set up and explored, we are still being involved with this sense of overhanging dread and tension. The story is divided up and misplaced, so Amy Dunne narrates the days before her death, after we know what happened to her. As Fincher shows us Nick and Amy being the perfect couple (a proposal scene, taken out of Gone Girl’s context, would make chick-flick fans swoon), we never forget Amy’s diary claiming that she thinks his husband is going to kill her. We sit and wait for that switch in their dynamic from where the cute couple that seem so ideal will evolve into the murderous husband and the stuck-up wife that the modern day scenes make them out to be.
The real fun comes with the answer to the riddles Fincher sets up. Watch this movie as soon as you can, because when the killer is revealed, you instantly know that the ensuing OSCAR nominations will be forced to let everyone know who the villain of the piece is. It is a fantastic performance that grips you from the moment Fincher goes through the solution side of things. The answer isn’t unguessable, one certain line giving away the truth ten minutes before Fincher does, but it doesn’t hurt the reveal. It’s a good turn of events and anyone that wants to come to the cinema for little more than a murder mystery will be able to sink into the twist and turns of Gone Girl. It makes the movie a little harder to review, because anyone wishing to talk about the second half of the movie will have to struggle with dancing around spoilers. Maybe it will be easier for me to recommend it whole-heartedly and just move onto the small flaws that stop it from being the perfect movie.
Pacing. Leaving Gone Girl, you will be screaming at the brilliance of the movie for playing with your perceptions and emotions so precisely. However, while it is glued together by a few iconic scenes that will easily be placed up there with the best of Fincher (think ‘head in a box’, ‘Ripley’s death’ kind of moments – and no, I am not exaggerating), in between those scenes, the movie does slow to a crawl. In a few years’ time, we might learn to enjoy the steady examination of events. It is clear that the slowing down of certain narrative points is purposefully by Fincher, so he can study the effects of media and marriage, especially when it comes to the difference between the identity of a person and the perfected identity they project onto their respective audience. However, this does mean that when you try and enjoy a break-neck murder thriller, you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs, when Fincher steps back from the story to satirise the public’s dependence on celebrity. The ending is a tricky one to describe as well. I liked it, but in a more thoughtful way. It doesn’t quite wrap itself up in the conventional way, which might frustrate some wanting to see certain characters get what is coming to them. However, like Tyler Durden’s bombs going off in Fight Club, or the bad guy getting his ideal ending in 7even, this ending is so ideally Fincher. After a while, Gone Girl will win its way around to you and be classed as one of Fincher’s finest pieces.
Final Verdict: It is good to see David Fincher tackle a passion project, while always keeping that tension and darkness that made his earlier work so iconic.