Film & TV

Gone Girl – Film Review

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

This sinister and unsettling film adaptation of an international bestseller definitely has something to offer.

As with most people, my exposure to Gone Girl was strictly transport-based. While travelling to and from work, I would see other commuters with a copy of the Gillian Flynn novel perched between their fingers. In all honesty, I treated it as a fad, or possibly a cheap bestseller that catered to the masses. So when the trailer for this movie was released, hinting at a rather eerie and thought-provoking story, I found myself suddenly intrigued and had to see whether the story beneath the film-wrapping had much to say.

The Plot

Gone Girl tells the story Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who, on the morning of his fifth anniversary, comes home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. He calls the police who, inquisitive at first, start to question his role in the disappearance and possible death, as the media takes interest and several key elements in their marriage start to surface.

What follows is an intense portrayal of several characters who eventually play far more prominent roles, such as the detective in charge of the case to Nick’s lawyer, who combine to create a representation of media culture in the United States. The story utilizes voice-over narration coupled with flashbacks to retrospectively reveal more and more sides of the story, leading to an unsettling revelation.

Ben Affleck, whatever you might say about his eventual role as Batman, has enjoyed an impressive career (discounting Daredevil, Paycheck and Gigli of course, but who can honestly produce anything worthwhile with Jennifer Lopez as a lead?). So it was pleasing to see him in the trailer, carrying his steely countenance around in the rather gloomily grey shade of the film – and suffice to say – he didn’t disappoint.

A stealthy box-office hit

Initially, the movie had an awkward quality to it, with the dialogue seeming unrealistically brusque, and not as a result of artistic self-awareness. However, as the film progressed, conversations between the characters became more and more interesting, with the interactions forcing suspense on the audience with aplomb.

David Fincher’s (of Benjamin Button fame) direction is to be lauded, with the slow and steady story of the missing person unfolding and the generous amount of voice-over and flashbacks featured, despite which there is never a dull or confusing moment. Fincher presents us with an aura of almost suffocating gloom, which adds flavor to the film surprisingly well.

Affleck appears to have been a great casting choice for the role, bringing an expected meaty gravitas. Rosamund Pike’s performance however, as the Harvard graduated and ambitious wife, is nothing short of stellar. With her character development reaching new heights, Pike brilliantly achieves a stark physical and psychological shift.

The issues this film (or rather, originally, the novel) explores are true representations of the zeitgeist, ranging from media and celebrity culture, to issues of privacy, monogamy, gender roles and sexuality. With a lengthy 149 minute running time, keeping the story consistently entertaining is no meagre task, which the film wholeheartedly succeeds in doing.

As one critic said, this may not be the perfect film, but it is the perfect adaptation.