Gone Girl Review
Reviewed by Jordan Smith.
Straight off the bat, I suppose I have to say, that this review is going to be filled with spoilers. To not talk about the spoilers in this film would be impossible as the spoilers somewhat drive the narrative of this film. So a quickie review to those of you who have stumbled on here but have not yet seen the film; it’s good, go watch it; maybe not as soon as possible but certainly get around to watching it at some point. Expect the unexpected and I don’t mean that in the sense that you won’t guess what’s going to happen. Anyway, on with the review. Depart now all ye who have not yet seen the film.
Gone Girl is the latest film from David Fincher, who has become something of a regular in the Oscar Bait season (his last three films all winning academy awards), about a guy who’s kind of a ‘d-bag’ and a woman who is almost certainly a psychopath. The film was written by the same woman who wrote the novel on which this film is based, Gillian Flynn. I haven’t read the book but Flynn has written a damn good screenplay for this film. Though I suppose, once you know the basics of screenwriting and you are adapting your own novel, it’s probably hard to stray too far wrong.
The set-up for this film is simple, at first. On their fifth wedding anniversary, charismatic Nick Dunne (cue Ben Affleck giving one of his most likable performances yet) returns home to find that his wife Amy is missing (Rosamund Pike, rising talent that she is, gives her scariest performance to date in this role). All is not as it seems however, as the circumstances surrounding ‘Amazing Amy’ are suspicious at best. Oh, you think the husband killed his wife? That’s far too simple. And… everyone probably knows it. No, you’ve guessed from the marketing material by now that the disappearance isn’t really a disappearance.
The film is paced well and it uses flashbacks effectively. Flashbacks are usually a narrative ‘no-no’ unless you’re extremely good at pulling them off, so naturally they work well under Flynn and Fincher’s guidance. Through flashbacks we are treated to the seemingly awful marriage of Amy. How she has issues with her parents because they weren’t the best parents when she was growing up, how this is only worsened because they wrote children’s books about her so now she’s incredibly famous and she resents it, how her husband has abused her on many occasions and how she fears for her life now. The film up to this point seems like your standard bread and butter (although very well made) murder mystery where the husband is blatantly the killer.
It all seems a little too perfect. And, as we find out halfway through the film, it is. Amy isn’t really dead. She set it all up because she found out that her husband was having an affair. Their marriage hadn’t exactly been going smoothly but it was nowhere near as bad and as abusive as Amy made it out to be. The rest of the film involves the circumstances of Amy’s plan to enact revenge on her husband and Nick’s attempts to prove that he is innocent.
It’s all pretty compelling stuff. The writing is superb, the directing also superb, though Fincher probably has more experience with this ‘mystery-thriller’ genre than his other recent films. Gone Girl feels a little like his previous film ‘Zodiac’ in parts and that’s not a bad thing.
The twists and turns come pretty fast throughout the second and third acts of this film and if there’s someone that steals the show, it’s absolutely Rosamund Pike. She does the dead stare of a psychopath so well. For everything the film does right though, I can’t get myself too enthusiastic about it. As fun as it is to watch Amy’s plan unfold and then fall to pieces and as bad as you feel for rooting for the guy that cheated on his wife, it all ends just a bit… depressingly. But that’s okay, some stories are meant to. It’s just hard to root for two pretty despicable human beings and very difficult to feel enthusiastic about a film that ends with the husband resigning to live with his psychopathic wife for the next eighteen years so that he can protect his unborn child. This film is good but god damn, you end up hating everyone in it.