Gone Girl – Film Review

David 'Fight Club' Fincher combines a maze-like plot with brutal drama to create an unmissable thriller

Did Nick Dunne kill his wife or didn’t he? Gillian Flynn adapts her best-selling mystery thriller for the screen with Fight Club director David Fincher sprinkling his genius to make Gone Girl one of this year’s most suspenseful cinematic experiences. The film opens with Nick’s ominous voice over musing how he’d love to get inside his wife’s head and revealing the “primal” questions of any marriage: “What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other?”

We meet Ben Affleck’s Nick on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary when he returns home to find scenes of a struggle and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. The police are on the scene in minutes and when they discover Amy was once the prey of school friend turned stalker Desi Collings (How I Met Your Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris) a national missing persons hunt is launched.

We learn that Amy’s parents are successful children’s authors whose Amazing Amy books were inspired by their daughter but at the same time, despite her Harvard degrees, gave her impossible standards to live up to. Nick and Amy had turned their backs on journalistic careers in New York to be near his family in Missouri where there troubles began and the potboiling story brews. A series of flashbacks starting when the couple met in 2005 are revealed via Amy’s voice over reading her diary. Fincher teases us and slowly exposes the cracks in the couple’s marriage and leaves us questioning the ‘facts’ as they have been presented.

Femme fatale or lost soul? Pike is by turns chilling and empathic in a complex role that’s sure to see her rewarded when the gongs are handed out. The actress says the film highlights America’s insatiable appetite for finding what’s gone wrong in the heartland and shows the mass empathy that can surge from a nation exposing the “tragedy vampire” in all of us. Caught in the eye of this storm, and uneasy in the spotlight, Nick faces a trial by media but won’t do the dance of the anguished husband. Affleck puts in one of his best performances and will keep you guessing as a victim of the 24-hour news cycle who becomes the prime suspect in a case that pulls his life to pieces making him “the most hated man in America right now”. And things go from bad to worse when the police discover Amy’s diary with the damning entry: “I am frightened of my own husband… This man of mine may kill me.”

If you haven’t read the book you’re in for even more of a treat because with each twist and counter twist Fincher plays with the audience and what we think we know in a film that starts as a mystery before a nose dive into the absurd finally washes up in the sewers of the sharpest satire. You’ll get no spoilers here and do yourself a favour and don’t Google the ending because it’s a corker. As he’s shown with his adaptations of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac, Fincher’s an expert at combining maze-like plots with brutal drama. Don’t miss the chance to get lost in his vision.

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