When his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) disappears the story becomes the focus of an intense media circus. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.
Review by Louise Keller:
As far as adaptations go, this is one of the best, Gillian Flynn's screenplay perfectly capturing the tone of her sensational novel, in which we witness a dark portrait of a marriage. David Fincher handles the material with the same intensity as he did with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, cutting through the faćcade of a seemingly perfect relationship with the acerbic brush of truth. It's a mesmerizing and claustrophobic tale in which the dark innermost recesses of the mind are explored and where secrets, roleplaying, retaining control and manipulating perceptions glide and slide like slippery snakes in a bottomless pit. As the beautiful couple that has it all, the casting is perfect: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike convey every complexity as the layers of superficiality are peeled away.
The power of the film lies in the way the individual perspectives of Nick (Affleck) and Amy (Pike) are revealed through their dual voices. In the opening scene, the combination of Pike's beautiful face and the biting narrative of her accompanying voice-over leaves no doubt that the relationship about which we are about to learn is indeed dark. The present and the past are effectively interspersed by flashbacks, Nick and Amy's voices offering a window into their lives from the moment the two writers meet at a New York party, exchange superficial banter and discover that they are as cool as each other. He is the guy to save her from 'all this awesomeness', but when they move to Missouri, the 'hot' of 'cool' turns to the 'chill' of 'dull', when raunchy sex is part of the role-playing as the fairy tale sours. Bottled up resentments come to light, there is the constant smear of disapproval and their earlier promise that 'we have each other; everything else is background noise' becomes lip service.
Amy's disappearance in suspicious circumstances is how it all begins with Nick becoming the prime murder suspect. Murder mystery turns into a psychological thriller, as dark secrets begin to spool out and keep coming. The provocative fifth wedding anniversary treasure hunt is both a tease and a trigger with Nick trying to be one step ahead of the police.
What is the truth about the marriage? And how do the other characters fit into the equation? Carrie Coon brings a welcome down-to-earth element to Nick's twin and soul-mate, Tyler Perry is highly entertaining as the celebrity lawyer hired to defend Nick and less is more for Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's obsessed former high-school flame. The prying eyes of the media and the impact of high profile talk shows are a reflection of the world in which we live: the scene in which Nick uses the television platform that reaches millions to reach only one, will have you on the edge of your seat.
With its dark lighting and tense music, Fincher's film is edgy throughout; we are never let off the hook or out of the clutches of the twilight zone of the disintegrated marriage in which pretence is a key ingredient. It's disturbingly good. As well as dense, entertaining, funny, insightful and more.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I haven't read the book (yet) and was interested what if any difference it makes to my response to the film. Obviously, with a thriller, knowing the ending is critical so by being unaware of how the story's twists unravel is a good thing for the viewer, if tension and mystery is your thing. But the fact is that film endings and book endings are not the same in their impact on the consumer of the work. I will now go and read the book, which is already in the house, where it has been read - and enjoyed.
I wonder if the ending is any different; those who know will know why it matters.
My overriding sense about Gone Girl is that director David Fincher wanted to make a flawless murder thriller in which the audience loyalty and association with the key characters was pushed and pulled unmercifully for maximum impact. He succeeds with his cinematic reading of the prose, constantly aware of the best way to visualise the written text. That includes building the characters and shaping their journeys, which are massive.
It is also to Fincher's credit that he cast Rosamund Pike as Amy, a role that gives Pike the opportunity to show the enormous talent she has, in a spectacular - and spectacularly difficult - role. She not only assumes the character, she also makes physical changes that propel the characterisation.
Ben Affleck gives a muscly performance (metaphorically as well as literally) as her husband Nick, and the story of their relationship - from the first meeting to the end shot - is the emotional powerhouse of the film. It is that relationship that informs everything we feel when the story rages like a fire out of control.
The key supporting cast are also memorable and effective, with great performances from Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney * and Carrie Coon as Nick's sister Margo, and a wonderfully relaxed Tyler Perry as defence lawyer Tanner Bolt. Neil Patrick Harris shows an austere side as Desi Collings, the old flame who won't go out, and Missi Pyle is suitably revolting as self centred TV anchor on one of those daytime shows which demonstrate how a witch hunt is really made.
But the ever present superstar of the film is writer Gillian Flynn, who has sculpted a fascinating and horrifying story of contemporary witchcraft - not of the sort with wart-nosed witches, but with same dread darkness that bad people possess.
* The film makes Detective Boney commit a crucial, inadvertent forensic error that is especially unfortunate now that so many forensic errors (many very similar) are being recorded against wrongful murder convictions. She refers to forensic tests that were carried out at Nick's home in which luminol showed a large pool of blood had been cleaned up, but residue gave positive results. The problem with this is that luminol tests are only indicative (remember Lindy Chamberlain - and there are others) and must be followed by confirmatory tests to actually prove the presence of blood. Prosecutors are already in trouble for making similar misrepresentations to juries.
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GONE GIRL (MA15+)
CAST: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon, Scoot McNairy, Casey Wilson, Boyd Holbrook,
PRODUCER: Ceán Chaffin, Joshua Donen, Arnon Milchan, Reese Witherspoon
DIRECTOR: David Fincher
SCRIPT: Gillian Flynn (novel by Flynn)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeff Cronenweth
EDITOR: Kirk Baxter
MUSIC: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Donald Graham Burt
RUNNING TIME: 145 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Twentieth Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 2, 2014