GONE GIRL (USA/16/149mins)
Directed by David Fincher. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit. Missy Pyle, Emily Ratajkowski.
THE PLOT: It’s June 5th 2005, and Nick Dunne isn’t looking forward to his 5th wedding anniversary. So much so that, early that morning, he’d rather be down in the hometown pub, The Bar, that he owns, and that his sister, Margo (Coon), runs. His wife, Amy (Pike), likes to present her husband with cryptic clues to a treasure hunt every anniversary, and the novelty has worn off for Nick. The honeymoon period is definitely over, and Nick has found himself increasingly unable to work out Amy’s clues. Which may have something to do with the fact that he’s grown to hate her. Despite their crazy, sexy, cool early years, from their meet-cute first kiss in a back alley blizzard from a sugar factory to the conspiratorial dislike of her parents, hugely successful, and wealthy, through the Amazing Amy books, which told a much happier, sweeter, far more successful version of their daughter’s life. Those were the reasons, that was New York, but now, having moved to the suburbs when Nick’s mum fell ill, the couple have grown desperately apart. So, when Nick returns from his morning bourbon to find his wife gone and the house showing signs of a struggle, he’s both shocked, and a little happy. Something Detective Rhonda Boney (Dickens) and her deputy, Officer Jim Gilpin (Fugit), pick up. And then, so do the neighbours. And the media. The man had everything to gain from his wife’s disappearance. Soon, even Margo begins to have her doubts as the evidence starts mounting up against her brother…
THE VERDICT: Based on Gillian Flynn’s 2012 bestseller, Gone Girl is perfect David Fincher material. On the surface, this is traditional thriller material, but proceedings take more than one Hitchcockian turn early on, and the twists then just keep on coming. Gillian Flynn has a lot of fun exploring just how relationships work, the pretence involved in seduction, the slow decay of that pretence and the resentment that comes with the realisation that not only is your partner not the person you fell in love with, but, worse, neither are you.
Along the way, there’s much to enjoy here, a surprising amount of laughs and some bullseyes on the bullshit – Missy Pyle’s Nancy Grace-esque TV shit-stirrer being one of the most blatant. At heart though, this is a sweet whodunnit. Just don’t bring your loved one along if they’re not really all that loved anymore.

Gone Girl
  • Inventive Soundtrack from Trent Resnor
  • Career best from Ben Affleck
  • Twists and turns in every direction
  • Long running time
  • Poor Ending
4.0Overall Score
  • filmbuff2011

    While it may not initially seem so, David Fincher’s latest film Gone Girl is a perfect fit for the director. It contains themes running through his impressive body of work about obsessive characters, dangerous situations and living on the edge of sanity. If there’s one main theme about this film, it’s about marriage. That’s where we find Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne. Celebrating five years of marriage together, they seem like the perfect couple. But when Nick comes home one day to find a coffee table smashed and Amy missing, he finds himself at the centre of a media maelstrom. Everyone thinks he killed her – and it doesn’t help that he comes across as rather cold and calculating about her disappearance. Police detectives Boney (Kim Dickens) and Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) investigate, but all is not as it seems… To say anymore would be to spoil this superb film’s many unexpected and devious turns. Based on the book by Gillian Flynn (who has written a new ending just for the film), Gone Girl is a merciless dissection of a marriage turned sour by years of petty jealousies and resentment, among other things. It’s certainly a talking point film that will get both men and women to think carefully about the loved one next to them in the cinema. Or they might be happy that they’re single… It might even be enough to suggest that this is the modern equivalent of Fatal Attraction. Fincher takes his characters into some pretty dark places and then back into the light, without ever losing focus on what is admittedly a long-ish film. Pike has been working solidly since her debut in Die Another Day, but Gone Girl should deservedly catapult her into the A-list. This is one of those star-making roles, even if it isn’t apparent from the initial premise of the film. Casting Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris against type is also an interesting choice on Fincher’s part. They both rise to the challenge. Like a lot of Fincher’s films, it’s immediately accessible, gripping, funny and doesn’t give any easy answers. If there’s one film to see this week, or even month, then Gone Girl is that film. Whatever you do, don’t miss it. ****

  • emerb

    David Fincher brings us “Gone Girl”, the most eagerly anticipated film of the year. It is an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 absorbing crime novel based around the sudden disappearance of a pretty, smart married woman and the subsequent murder investigation in which her husband becomes the centre of a tabloid media frenzy. My first instinct when a book is to be turned into a movie is to concentrate on all the ways it will get it wrong. Gone Girl was one of those rare page-turners that balanced twists and turns with excellent writing. I am glad to say that both loyal fans and general viewers will not be disappointed with this movie. Gone Girl gets just about everything right and is a faithful adaptation of the novel. As thrillers go, it is confident, well paced and smart. It stands out as one of the most gripping, sharp, dark, daring and entertaining movies I have seen this year.

    The film tells the nightmare story of Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Afleck and Rosamund Pike), a blissfully happy couple whose marriage turned very sour, possibly into a murder. Five years ago they were happily married but the once dazzling NYC writers have not had an easy time as they lost their jobs in the downturn, had to contend with family illness and a resentful move to Missouri, where Nick and his twin sister Margot (the excellent Carrie Coon) run a bar. On the morning of their fifth anniversary, disaster strikes. Nick arrives back from an
    afternoon in the bar he runs with his sister to find Amy has mysteriously disappeared. He is faced with upturned furniture, shattered glass, signs of a struggle and traces of blood. Nick appears to be curiously aloof and unflustered by his wife’s absence and quickly becomes the police’s prime suspect. It is clear he is being evasive about something and his alibi is certainly not airtight. The investigation is led by the sceptical Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and sidekick Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit). Fincher really excels at recreating the crime – the CSI, the press conferences, the TV talk show debates, the community search, a candlelit vigil and the blurred lines between culprit and celebrity.

    As in the book, Gone Girl unfolds in alternating chapters from each partner’s point of view. We move between the developing situation via first-person narratives told from Nick in the present and flashbacks of happier days through Amy’s diary entries. This was a challenge for Fincher but to his credit, he has structured the movie extremely well and we glide easily between now and then. We get a nice balance between the characters and the background before moving into the compelling second section as the truth about Amy’s disappearance emerges and attention is focussed on Nick and his past. Initially we glimpse Nick’s life — chatting with his sister, playing board games in his bar
    — before his world is turned upside down. Amy describes a relationship that begins like a romance novel, from meeting at a party to kissing in a sugar storm. Still, even she knows how unattainable the ideal can be and subsequent entries portray Nick as hot tempered and unfaithful. We track her early enchantment, gradual disillusionment, and, finally, the fear that her cold and resentful husband will kill her. The revealing of her fate, which takes place in the middle of the film, is expertly handled by Fincher, re-energising the plot while introducing some new characters – Neil Patrick Harris as Amy’s ex-lover and Tyler Perry as a grandstanding lawyer. At this point, I can reveal no more about the plot for fear of spoiling it.

    Casting is key for this movie and Fincher gets it spot on here too. As the maybe-lying protagonist, Nick Dunne, Affleck gives what may be the most natural and convincing performance of his career. He is terrific and his innate likeability and first hand experience of the media mean that he completely carries the movie. He treads the fine line between a sympathetic, innocent, affable man accused of a horrendous crime and a disillusioned husband who could so easily commit a heartless murder. Rosamund Pike is remarkably good too, her performance is taut and powerful. She is given a deeper, more daring role than she has ever had before and both physically and emotionally, she tackles it
    impressively. As Nick’s sister Margo, Carrie Coon blends concern, outrage
    and unbending sisterly love, their relationship feels honest and real.

    For me, the movie was totally absorbing – a masterful and superior crime thriller. It is clean, sharp and perfectly constructed. The themes in this movie are universal and you leave quite uncertain about what to make about men, women, marriage, journalism, the justice system and the bust economy. It paints a bleak depiction of a corrosive marriage in which a couple are imprisoned and the impossibility of ever truly knowing those closest to us. It also takes a strike at tabloid-era sensationalism and how the media builds stories that quickly get subsumed as truth by a fickle public that will swallow whatever is being sold. I
    can’t guarantee that the film’s ending will work for everyone but I can guarantee that you are a hard person to please if you didn’t find “Gone Girl” to be a gripping and suspenseful watch from start to finish.