Masterfully directed by seasoned filmmaker David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club) and brilliantly acted by stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl is nonetheless a cold, clinical film. Fincher continues to develop his sharp and subversive sensibilities here by keeping the audience at arm’s length throughout the mystery thriller plot but it results in an impersonal picture that’s difficult to become emotionally involved in – especially if you already know the story’s twists and turns.
Based on the book of the same name and with a screenplay by the novel’s author Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl is a near perfect adaptation even if it isn’t a perfect film. The story follows Nick Dunne (Affleck), who returns home on the day of his wedding anniversary to find that his wife, Amy Elliott-Dunne (Pike), has disappeared. The suspicious circumstances of the case lead the media to quickly paint Dunne as the culprit, and it isn’t long before the evidence also begins to point to Nick.
Fincher’s precision behind the camera keeps you guessing while the superb cast keep you engaged for the lengthy two and a half-hour runtime, but the payoff lacks catharsis. For all its style, it’s not an exciting movie and there are gaps in logic that the film hurries past and buries under the pretence of intelligent scripting. Don’t get me wrong – the screenplay is intelligent, chiefly in respect of its social commentary and characterisation of its captivating leads, but the procedural element is lacking.
Thankfully, Nick and Amy are a revelation, and both Affleck and Pike deserve Oscar attention for their work here. In the director’s chair, Fincher has come a long way since Alien 3 but I can’t help but feel that he’s lost some of the roughness that gave his early features their visual flavour. Indeed, while Gone Girl is a great film and a better adaptation, Fincher’s control of its surreal tone makes for detached, impersonal viewing. Still, this is an enthralling storyline even if it doesn’t tickle every fancy – a damn good yarn well worth watching.