By Max Havey
Gone Girl is one of the most unnerving and simultaneously gripping films you will experience this year. At risk of spoiling your own experience with the film, I will try to keep as many spoilers as possible out of this review. But the basic premise of the film is that a man, Nick Dunne, comes home one day to find that his wife Amy is missing and he soon becomes the prime suspect. Though as the clues begin to present themselves Nick and the town begins asking the same question: “What really happened to Amy Dunne?”
When I walked out of the theater after having seen David Fincher’s latest adaptation, I had to take a few hours to process what it was that I just watched. The film is also written by Gillian Flynn, the author who wrote the source novel that stormed the bestseller list back in summer of 2012. Gone Girl is not an easy film to stomach, it feels like its goal is to unsettle the viewer, much like many of Fincher’s other films, like Se7en, The Game and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I don’t even know what genre I would classify Gone Girl. Many sites touted it as “The Date Movie of the Decade,” but honestly, that’s like saying Silence of the Lambs or Reservoir Dogs is a good date movie. Neither of those are a good idea. The best way to classify it is a modern Hitchcockian thriller with a flair for the Midwest.
This shouldn’t give anything away, but Ben Affleck gives a good performances as Nick Dunne, though at times it feels a little flat and one note. On the other hand Rosamund Pike gives an incredibly interesting and nuanced performance as Amy. It is also worth noting that Tyler Perry, who plays a sort of Johnny Cochran, Jackie Chiles type lawyer is quite entertaining and brings a surprising amount of humor to his role. At the same time Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit (You may know him better as the kid form Almost Famous) work well together as the detectives trying to figure out just what happened, serving as audience surrogates.
I also can’t leave out the very funny Casey Wilson, who shows up as Nick and Amy’s ditzy neighbor Noelle Hawthorne, the stereotypical nosey neighborhood perfectly. There really isn’t a bad performance in the whole film.
At the heart of Gone Girl, is the loaded question “Who are you?” This leads into one of the key themes of the film, which is identity. Investigating whether anyone is truly who they claim to be and what they are truly capable of doing. At the same time, there is also a scathing critique of Nancy Grace-style news shows who make sweeping accusations in cases like the one present in Gone Girl. They are digging for any possible information they could get to try and make people seem guilty. This aspect of the film is a critique on how volatile the media atmosphere is toward people involved in these situations and the effect it can have on them.
Perennial Fincher collaborators, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, return as the composers on the films score which underline the film’s unsettling air. Many pieces start out serenely like a calm river, but slowly morphs into this cacophony increasingly loud digital and industrial noises as the emotion gets more exaggerated. It’s reminiscent to the way of the classic tension building music used in the films of Alfred Hitchcock like the infamous shower scene in Psycho. The score ties the film together quite nicely.
Overall, I would recommend seeing Gone Girl. It is an experience unlike any other film that has come out so far this year and will likely stick with viewers long after seeing it.