Firstly, a disclaimer: everything contained below is within the trailer and/or take place within the films’ first act.
By the fact there needs to be a disclaimer, shows exactly the type of film we’re looking at. Director David Fincher has created an absolutely stunning film which highlights the performances of both leads (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) and subverts gender conventions throughout.
The film takes the difficult task of taking a book that is based around how people are thinking and feeling and displaying this on-screen. The narrative is based around the mysterious disappearance of Pike’s Amy Elliott-Dunne and the strange behaviour and circumstances in which Affleck’s Nick Dunne is now found. This is all put through the filter of their utterly fractious relationship.
During the ensuing media frenzy that follows Amy’s disappearance and, as a result of not reacting in the way he is expected, Nick becomes public enemy number one. This brings along star-lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) who arrives to coach Nick on how to remain one step ahead of the curve. At this point, the film becomes less concentrated on the investigation surrounding Amy’s disappearance but more focused on image and perception. At this point, Nick is playing a role in which he hopes will switch the public perception on him. The media and the image are central themes throughout the film. How you’re viewed becomes as important – if not more – than the actions which you take.
Gender roles within the film are utterly subverted (well-worn ground for the director of Fight Club). The patriarch of the film, Nick, seems almost drowned out at one point by his sister Margo (Carrie Coon) and Detective Rhonda Bony (Kim Dickins) and almost leans on them, incapable of acting without at least their support. That is not to mention Amy’s role. Without spoiling anything within the film, Amy simply lauds as the centre of the film and the basis for all that follows. She is shown to be truly in charge of the relationship with Nick and uses everything she can in order to keep him in line of what she wants him to do.
Fincher has crafted a gripping and ice-cold thriller that takes two utterly unlikeable characters and makes them almost hypnotic for its running time. As always, the film is gorgeous and painstakingly crafted to convey that everything within the shots have a hidden meaning – another Fincherism.
The problem with comparing this to other films Fincher has made is that he has at least two absolute classics in Se7en and Fight Club however Gone Girl is as close to a romance film as he will ever likely get. The performances are already bringing award talk and a quick note – Ben Affleck’s is described to have ‘a villains chin’ which may come back to haunt him when he’s seen in full cape and cowl.
The true beauty of Gone Girl is not in what you are told, but in what you interpret. The actions of the leads are something that will spark debate between all who watch the film. It’s polarizing, it’s cold and it’s completely hypnotic. Fincher has crafted a wonderful pulp thriller.