gone_girl_4Year: 2014
Director: David Fincher
Writer(s): Gillian Flynn
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 149 mins

Synopsis: With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent. (Source)

Identity, obsession and truth – these three elusive themes are the underlying clockwork of what make up a David Fincher film, and in Gone Girl, they’re at their most naked and raw, set amongst an intimate drama of murder and deception. With that in mind, it’s easy to see what attracted Fincher to the duality of Gillian Flynn’s perspective-based murder mystery, taking what easily could’ve been trashy melodrama and elevating it into irresistible character study. Fincher understands the innate absurdity of the source material like no other, mining bleak humor in the most unsettling ways and a merciless dissection of perceived gender roles in the context of a relationship. Needless to say, Fincher’s a master at character drama and it shows, with dense nuance and an impeccably casted ensemble. Gone Girl will relate to everyone on a different level, but no matter who you are, you’ll be at the edge of your seat and begging for more; all the way to the bitter and haunting end.

The story opens up on the fifth anniversary of Nick and Amy Dunne. Nick returns home only to find his wife missing under alarming and suspicious circumstances. Furniture is overturned, there are splashes of blood and her abrupt disappearance is unlike her. Nick promptly calls the Police who find even more incriminating details at the scene along with their own reasons to investigate the possible involvement of Nick himself. Things only take a turn for the worse when the media gets involved. Immediately judged and branded guilty by the public, Nick is forced to navigate a slippery slope of deception in order to find out the true nature of his wife’s appearance. While the present day mystery is more or less from Nick’s perspective, the narrative is cross cut with flashbacks told through Amy’s diary, chronicling their evolving relationship from an innocuous meet cute to something progressively more complex. Of course, nothing and no one here is who or what they seem to be, and in the end, we’re left with an explosive look at the relative nature of truth.

Fitting to the subject matter, what Fincher does so well here is bring together disparate perspectives to make up a larger, insidious bigger picture. In many ways it’s evocative of the evolving nature of perception and reality. There’s always our version, theirs and the truth, and while they may all be completely different, they converge in ways we least expect. This is what’s so deliciously good about the film’s labyrinthian narrative – that throughout all the twists and sordid details, there’s a fundamental dissection of human nature the ways we chose to present the truth of a situation to ourselves and each other. Not to mention, on surface level the film is a fast paced rush of cascading twists which make us constantly re-evaluate each character and piece of evidence from one moment to the next. This thing’s got it all, and is a deeply rooted character study built around an unpredictable whodunit, eager to boil over at any moment. Fincher is having the most fun he’s ever had, and in a lot of instances, you won’t know whether to laugh or be paralyzed by the shock of each eventful turn.

gone_girl_3With a story about seemingly normal people under the duress of an extraordinary event, Fincher direction and Flynn’s script anchor everything with rich, dense relationships brought to life by a flawless cast. Fincher has casted to and against type, so there isn’t a weak link anywhere to be found. Three performances carry the entire thing: Ben Affleck’s Nick, Rosamund Pike’s Amy and Carrie Coon as the scene stealing Margo. Affleck and Rosamund are perfect together and there is plenty of chemistry between them whether they’re having a heated argument or a tender moment. Both are capable of being a villain or a victim depending on how you look at any given situation, and the duality they bring to their roles is paramount to the film’s conceit. Personally, it’s no surprise that Affleck is great, he’s incredible with the right material and this character evokes the various media scrutiny he’s had to weather his entire career. Rosamund on the other hand finally gets the breakout role she deserves – Amy’s a delicate character who has a tight rope to balance and Rosamund’s transformation throughout is flawless. As Nick’s twin sister Margo, Carrie Coon is probably the film’s secret weapon. Her relationship with her brother is a stark contrast in many ways to the Nick/Amy dynamic and she may be the impossible “cool girl” the film talks about. There’s something really genuine about her and she holds her own in a smaller yet pivotal role that relies on honesty rather than sexuality or false facades. In addition, Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit are excellent as a pair of detectives trying to put the pieces together. Their rapport hints at enough story to fill their own movie and offers a platonic partnership which contrasts with the rest of the film’s twisty relationships.

Gone Girl is an adult thriller of the highest caliber – it’s moody, deliciously dark and cleverly crafted to transcend it’s procedural or melodramatic framework. You’ll be guessing ’till the end and be rocked to the core by its explosive ideas of identity and how little we really know each other. Entire essays can and will be written about the implications of its gender politics, and in that sense, it’s a perfect way to jumpstart important conversations that should be taking place. Above all things though, this is a fun ride that is centered in truthful human emotions, and it’s something you won’t forget any time soon.

Crome Rating: 4.5/5

SG