Gone Girl (2014)
In a career spanning just over a couple of decades, David Fincher has garnered a strong reputation as one of the finest auteurs working in the film industry today & certainly the best one around when it comes to thrillers. Having made a legacy out of delivering one spellbinding feature after another, one can always expect Fincher to come up with a film that’s at the forefront of quality whether it’s the story, performances or technical aspects while also being equally entertaining at the same time & so far, this master storyteller is yet to disappoint. And now, his latest feature once again arrives with those qualities in tact & offers much more for Gone Girl is an exploration of the dynamics of marriage, a ruthless exposition of media sensationalism & an interesting examination of the morbid curiosity of humans who have always been attracted to the scenes of tragedy.
Based on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name, Gone Girl tells the story of Nick Dunne, who on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary returns home to find that his wife Amy is missing. As she was the inspiration for her parent’s popular book series, Amazing Amy, her sudden disappearance receives widespread attention & soon becomes the focus of an intense media circus. A series of flashbacks reveal how their marriage had already disintegrated once both of them lost their jobs during the recession period & had to relocate from New York City to Missouri after his mother was diagnosed with cancer. However, as the search for Amy widens & several new clues turn up, the media spotlight ultimately turns on Nick himself whose now exposed lies, deceits & awkward behaviour makes everyone suspicious of his involvement in the disappearance of his own wife.
Directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is an absolutely thrilling piece of work from start to finish. The entire plot is structured in a manner that keeps the viewers guessing all the time, the execution is near-perfect for Fincher is well-known to be a perfectionist when it comes to technical craftsmanship & even its twists n turns come forth at just the right moments which makes the cinematic experience all the more enriching. The screenplay is penned down by Gillian Flynn herself & is a very impressive adaptation from a first-time screenwriter for Flynn never really discards the elements that made her novel such an instant hit amongst readers. Also, as pure an exercise it is in suspense, Gone Girl was always tailor-made for Fincher’s talents & he proves so by encapsulating an already dark tale with an even darker ambience, thus taking the whole premise to the next level.
Coming to the technical aspects, this is one area where Fincher is second to none for the director has an in-depth knowledge of how even the smallest of details can contribute in a major way & exhibits precise control over all elements of filmmaking. Production design team is hugely responsible for the painstakingly refined set pieces present in the picture. Cinematography has always remained perfectly in tone with the story in every Fincher film & Gone Girl is no exception as its camera movements are highly controlled, tracking shots are smoothly carried out, and low-key photography is nailed to perfection, thanks to correct use of colour tones & flawless lighting. Also, despite being 150 minutes long, there isn’t one moment when its runtime is felt for every scene ends up being relevant to the plot and the story as a whole is steadily paced, cleverly narrated & tightly edited.
Marking their third consecutive collaboration with David Fincher, both Trent Reznor & Atticus Rose team up once again to provide the background score to his latest feature & just like they’ve managed to make it work so amazingly well on the last two occasions, the soundtrack for Gone Girl presents the duo in prime form for it wonderfully captures the essence of the story being told & seamlessly integrates with the unfolding events. The score is heavily electronic, creates an intimidating aura of its own which makes the film’s tense moments all the more harrowing & does a fascinating job in keeping the audience uncomfortable for the majority of its runtime with its unsettling but extremely effective tracks. And so at last, we come to the acting department which is another major plus for the film boasts a talented cast who all deliver strong performances in their given roles.
Leading from the front are Ben Affleck & Rosamund Pike in their respective roles of Nick & Amy Dunne but the supporting cast of Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon & Kim Dickens also end up chipping in with vital contributions to make their mark in the picture. Being no stranger to the dark side of press & how quickly it can change any person’s face in society, Ben Affleck draws on his own experience with media to portray the frustration of Nick Dunne amidst all the media circus & is very convincing in the given role. Rosamund Pike is a revelation in the role of Amy Elliot-Dunne for she steals every moment she is in with effortless ease & delivers the most impressive performance of the picture which is strong enough to be ranked amongst this year’s finest on-screen works. Commanding the screen with sublime finesse, Pike exhibits complete control over her character & her chemistry with Affleck is absolutely spot-on.
Coming to the supporting characters, Neil Patrick Harris does a fine job as Desi Collins; Amy’s ex-boyfriend who’s still in love with her, and his performance is melancholic to an extent. Carrie Coon plays Margo; Nick’s twin sister who’s his only support throughout his ordeal, & her work is much better than anticipated. Kim Dickens takes over the role of Detective Rhonda Boney; the lead investigator on the case, & does a splendid job in her role. However, my favourite work from the supporting cast comes from none other than Tyler Perry who plays Tanner Bolt; Nick’s attorney, with sublime confidence and I really wish he had more screentime than what he eventually ends up with. Also adding more strength to its cast is Missy Pyle who is in as Ellen Abbott; a cable TV host, Sela Ward as Sharon Shieber, a network TV host who gets to interview Nick on her show, and both Lisa Banes & David Clennon convincingly fill in as Amy’s parents.
On an overall scale, Gone Girl is an incredibly smart, highly sophisticated & immensely satisfying thriller from David Fincher which exquisitely balances the director’s artistic ambitions with audience’s expected entertainment, thus offering a cinema that delivers on all fronts. It’s a thought-provoking look at the hardships of matrimony, shows that it takes more than love to make a marriage work, and that the fall in economy can play as devastating a role as lies, dishonesty & infidelity in triggering the downfall of long-term relationships. But where its hammer falls hardest is in its unforgiving representation of the devious nature of media for it covers a wide array of relationships between press, the news it reports, the manner in which the news is reported as well as the alarming extent it can stoop to in order to exploit someone’s misfortunes, and in the process also ends up making a statement about our very own obsession with such materials. Definitely one of the best films to come out this year, Gone Girl comes strongly recommended.