In the summer of 2012, Gone Girl became one of the year’s biggest literary phenomena, coming second only to the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Given the book’s intriguing examination of long-term relationship dynamics, it came as no surprise that the film rights were bought by 20th Century Fox and Pacific Standard soon after the book’s release. David Fincher took the helm by directing the project, and worked closely with author Gillian Flynn to bring her story to life, with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike starring in the lead roles.
Flynn’s thriller, which explores the psychology of Nick and Amy Dunne, begins on the morning of their fifth anniversary when Nick discovers his wife missing. This leads to his unravelling as both the police and media suspect him of her murder. Fincher’s film maintains an effortless flow throughout, and while the film does not replicate The Social Network‘s fast-paced atmosphere, the intensity of Gone Girl is relentless. This is realised, in part, by the stellar performances given by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as the self-absorbed, ignorant husband and his manipulative wife. Pike, in particular, is astounding as ‘Amazing’ Amy – a cold and vindictive character made fascinating by Pike’s poised performance, especially during the second half of the film. Nick, meanwhile, can only find solace in his twin sister Margot (a wonderfully grounded performance by Carrie Coon), whose stubborn dedication to him is preserved throughout the investigation.
Nothing is ever as it seems in Gone Girl and this makes the film unpredictable and absorbing for the audience. The clinical precision that cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth uses in the film, in conjunction with Flynn’s brilliantly adapted script, supports this intense atmosphere. In the book, chapters alternate between the estranged couple’s first-person narratives to present both the current investigation and their past relationship, and Fincher’s film preserves this structure well, despite the intensity wavering in the final act. As the film expresses the characters’ inner monologue through subtle facial expressions, it becomes difficult to interpret the characters reactions to one another.
The score, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, compliments the performances given on screen, creating a fresh soundtrack by combining instruments and electronic sounds much like their work on The Social Network. I did feel at the time that the music was overpowering, making it difficult to understand what the actors were saying, especially during the scene where Amy and Nick first meet. Despite this, I really loved Gone Girl and even felt that I enjoyed it much more than the book (which, I assure you, is a first for me). The combination of incredible performances and Fincher’s beautiful presentation make Gone Girl one of the best films of the year.
Written by Roxy Simons.
Edited by Manoshi Quayes.