(University of Alberta)
What would you do if your wife disappeared and you were accused of murdering her?
Director David Fincher explores this idea through the amazing suspense film written by the novel’s author, Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl is a reminder that films do not have to be classified as horror to create deep feelings of unease.
A mix of flashbacks and real-time shows the love story of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), a couple who have gone through major relationship struggles and are in the throes of working on their marriage. A recession, the death of a parent and a move from New York to suburban Missouri later, they have managed to arrive at the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. When Nick returns home from the bar that he owns with his twin sister he finds Amy missing, launching a huge investigation surrounding her disappearance. As pieces of their seemingly perfect relationship publicly crumble in her absence — aided by a voracious media presence — Nick becomes the main suspect in his wife’s murder.
The casting of the film is impeccable and has no weak links to speak of. The stars are definitive high points — Affleck being the good-guy struggling with being seen in a negative light and Pike shining as his missing wife. While it would be easy to focus on the two main actors the supporting cast works flawlessly together, building off each other to create a convincing small-town in the throes of tragedy. Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) is amazing as Amy’s college sweetheart and somehow breaks out of his standard children’s movie charm to be one of the most subtly unsettling characters in the film.
While the acting is a high point in the film, the writing gave actors a lot to work with and not a lot of space for weak performances. The completely gripping suspense in the film can be attributed to the amazing timing. The slower, less action-filled moments are so dripping in meaning that they will still grab hold and not allow viewers to lose interest.
Along with suspense Gone Girl also has a surprising amount of comedic relief — mainly delivered through amazing one-liners at the end of tense scenes. It is hard to tell whether the jokes are funny because of the actor’s delivery or are just a product of nervous giggling, but regardless they are a welcome break from the “what-will-happen-next” feeling that most of the film creates.
The biggest concern one could have about the film is the potential butchering of the novel that it is based off of — but viewers will find it to be one of the most accurate book-to-movie adaptations that has ever been created. While Fincher had the end slightly changed to fit film timing, Flynn wrote the entire screenplay and the ending. Though subtly different, it will not disappoint lovers of the book.
Gone Girl is a fantastic film. Fincher has meticulously crafted it into a suspenseful thrill ride that is sure to hook any viewer, whether or not they have read the book that moulded the film. Even having read the book, viewers will be so enthralled in the action that they will be constantly guessing what will happen next.