Hearing a voiceover of a man wanting to smash open his wife’s skull to see ‘what’s going on inside’ sets the tone for David Fincher’s newest feature, Gone Girl, as the latest book-film adaptation to hit the big screen takes the bestselling thriller by novelist Gillian Flynn and puts it in the hands of one of the great modern directors.
The film starts on the morning of Nick and Amy Dunne’s 5th wedding anniversary. As Nick (Ben Affleck) returns home to find Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing, he reports it to the police only to eventually find himself a suspect in her disappearance. As the spotlight and the media begin to scrutinise him, Nick begins to realise that there is more to Amy’s disappearance.
The themes of unreliable narration is key to making a faithful yet compelling adaptation and thanks to Flynn’s own adapted screenplay, the complexity of the novel is not lost in its dramatisation. Fincher brilliantly tells the story with plenty of twists and turns, inviting the viewer to delve a little deeper into the mystery. There are little glimpses of black comedy dotted throughout, which provide welcome pauses from the tension and bleakness of the story, but they do not take away the focus from Amy’s disappearance.
Aside from the exceptional direction, the casting is spot-on. Affleck perfectly embodies the troubled Nick, who perfectly squirms under the spotlight while having to confront the consequences of his life choices. Pike shines in a career-defining role; sharp, cool and detached, she shows that she can play more than the traditional English rose. The supporting characters are great as well, with Carrie Coon (Nick’s twin sister, Margo), Tyler Perry (lawyer Tanner Bolt) and Neil Patrick Harris (Amy’s creepy ex, Desi Collins), playing their roles to a tee.
Overall, Gone Girl is gritty yet glamorous, creating a suspenseful and calculating masterpiece. Easily one of the best films of 2014.
Director: David Fincher
Writers: Gillian Flynn (screenplay), Gillian Flynn (novel)
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Runtime: 145 min