Film review: Gone Girl

Ben Affleck's performance in Gone Girl is one of his finest, says Joseph
Ben Affleck's performance in Gone Girl is one of his finest, says Joseph

Joseph Austin reviews Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck.

David Fincher really doesn’t do nice.

With Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999), Social Network (2010) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) in his back catalogue, Fincher’s latest feature, Gone Girl, is just as dark and equally as twisted as his previous works.

Heavily based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling page-turner, Gone Girl is the tale of a modern marriage turned sour, the obsession with our perceived sense of self, and the perverse circus of our celebrity-obsessed, media-saturated culture.

On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home to find his wife, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), has vanished.

Soon becoming embroiled in a murder investigation, Affleck’s brilliantly nonchalant Nick parades around police stations and press conferences with pomp, as well as swigging beer at his sister Margo’s (Carrie Coon), and excelling at being both monumentally contemptible and average nice guy all at the same time.

Following Affleck’s steady comeback and in his finest role since Argo (2012), Nick is effortlessly effortless, or in other words, he doesn’t give a damn.

But why doesn’t he? After all, his “Amazing Amy” is missing and presumed dead.

The answer lies in Gone Girl’s absorbingly clever narrative.

Fincher skilfully deploys two story threads.

The first follows the linear aftermath of Amy’s vanishing; the police procedure, the media circus, the pseudo-celebrity status of a missing person.

At times it almost feels like a parody. But this is Fincher’s style – playfully inhumane.

The second thread, however, tells the (true?) story of Amy and Nick’s relationship from the carefree and lovey-dovey beginning.

“We’re so cute, I could punch us in the face” says Rosamund Pike’s strikingly blonde Amy, as she monologues from a series of diary entries.

We’re given her side of the story, Amy’s take on things, the voice of a victim. We want to believe her – but should we?

It’s a real star turn from the British-born actress who, like Affleck, has perhaps suffered in her career due to a mixed bag of previous films.

But Pike grabs this one by the scruff of the neck and her performance is truly magnificent.

What keeps Gone Girl so fresh in terms of its label as a thriller is the way it progressively becomes less of a “whodunnit” and more about the how and why.

Though the how is left for an unconventional but re-energising middle-of-the-film plot twist, the why is as hugely apparent as Ben Affleck’s dimpled chin.

“That’s marriage” replies Amy (receiving biggest laugh of the film) after Nick explains that all they do is “cause each other pain”.

And being the “most mucked up people [defence attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) has] ever met,” perhaps the institution of marriage, it seems, is only for the mentally insane?

No, perhaps not.

But you’d certainly think twice about it after seeing Gone Girl, and see it you should.