When it was put to me by my girlfriend to go see Gone Girl, truth be told I was a bit tentative. I had not read the huge bestselling novel on which the film is based by Gillian Flynn, who writes the screenplay also. As much as I am an admirer of David Fincher, the last film of his I saw in the cinema was The Game - his unheralded work starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn - the last film he did before he went stratospheric with Fight Club.
Fincher's work is very much about mood and composition and the look, which whilst looks great the imagery can be lost on the big screen scale, this viewer preferring to wait for the Home Entertainment release. However, something about watching Ben Affleck squirm was nevertheless pleasing to me but I also wanted to see Rosamund Pike succeed in the title role of Amy Dunne, married to Affleck's Nick.
The film like most of Fincher's work carries a bang and a twist that slaps you in the face with a cold hand. As someone who did not read the book, the twist left me stunned and confused. I remember seeing an interview with Affleck, where he has heard accusations that the film has been labelled misogynistic. Can a film/novel be such a thing, if authored by a woman? Do not worry dear reader, I shall not ruin the ending or the twist.
What can be said though, is that Fincher has succeeded in creating a cyncial and satirical swipe at US media and the tabloid witch-hunts that go after fodder to fill up column inches and the constant 24 hour news cycle of hate and fear, as perfectly embodied by Missy Pyle in a cameo. The film is not only cynical of the media but also about that other institution, marriage; mocking it as an act between two players who cannot compromise and yet must do to co-exist.
When Nick and Amy meet, they are cute, the type of couple you want to slap for being so happy and Amy even says, 'I want to punch us, we are so cute'. Yet following the recession and unemployment, the couple have to leave New York for Nick's hometown of Missouri to tend to his ailing mother. This relocation leads to a relocation of feelings and emotions for the perfect couple, as arguments become longer and more frequent leading to the abduction of Amy where Nick is prime suspect.
The gloss of the film is very methodical as expected from such a visual director as Fincher, alas there is no coffee pot dolly shot for fanboys to cream over; this is a film where he allows his actors to hold centre stage and grab our attention by their movement and action. Fincher's camera is perhaps the stillest I can recall and yet his panache and flair is still so distinctive.
Whilst Affleck postures and breathes menacingly (in preparation for Batman no doubt), it is Pike who hits the home run of a performance. A role of so many layers is given life by the beautiful Brit, allowing Amy to be homely yet icy; believable yet leave you guessing, sexy yet innocent. Able support is forthcoming from Carrie Coon as Nick's twin sister, Margo; Kim Dickens as Detective Boney, who wants to help Nick but must do her job; Neil Patrick Harris playing it straight as an old flame of Amy's and Tyler Perry brings some genuine warmth and mirth to the role of Tanner Bolt, a lawyer who helps defend Nick.
At times gripping and highly intelligent, the film has to succumb to the books conclusion and whilst the twist cranks up the necessary tension, the denouement leaves you a little bit unhappy as it is no conclusion at all. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Although the use of Affleck's face to bookend the abduction hunt - one a misplaced smile, the other an unhappy frown - is a great use of performance and a swipe at Affleck's matinee looks.
Go and see it before this girl is gone from the cinema screens. I did you a disservice Mr. Fincher and you deserved my cinema going attention. You have it now, its been found.