Gone Girl review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
David Fincher’s Gone Girl is a strikingly deep and shocking commentary on the perception of both gender and marriage. How far can a woman get away with hearsay? How far can a man fall on proposed slander? And, more importantly, how far can the media go to mutate the he-said-she-said story into something that could be easily manipulated behind the scenes? These are all very uncomfortable questions with no easy answers that Fincher dares to tantalize in this off-beat drama. Suffice to say, it may not be the best movie for a first date.
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is in a marriage he doesn’t care for with his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike). He owns a bar that does little business, cheats on his wife with another woman and spends more time talking with his sister than his wife. Upon returning home for their anniversary, Nick discovers a shattered glass table and a missing Amy. The cops mount an investigation, but there is a trail of clues that seem to suggest he might have killed her. Her diary speaks of her love life being drained, describing Nick as frustrated and abusive. There are a series of insurance adjustments and credit card bills that appears as though Nick had this all planned out. All eyes are on Nick and everybody suspects him from the cops to the neighbors to the national news.
It’s pretty clear to see that it is Amy herself manipulating this missing person fiasco, but the why is the real mystery. She has a few clear motives to want to get back at her husband, but the lengths she goes for revenge are far too elaborate in their intricacies. Amy drains a massive amount of blood on the floor of her house only to clean up as though Nick were covering up evidence. She stages relationships with neighbors to stir the pot of the gullible and gossipy. Being this devoted to her scheme reveals a clear bit of insanity considering this isn’t her first time riding the crazy train of character assassination. This is a woman who truly feels that she has left a piece of herself behind and uses all her tricks of modern gender perceptions to get what she wants out of life (if she even wants anything).
At the same time, Nick also uses the media to his advantage as he must maintain his stance as the victim rather than the murderer. Despite knowing the truth, he must sell his innocence in a way that is believable to the judging public and the media jackals. It’s a draining game he plays when his wife, miles away with plenty of cash and pawns, holds all the winning cards. Even when he bares all his truthful infidelities to the public, it’s still not enough to convince anyone of not murdering his wife. But Amy’s plan is not so simple as several variables force her to drum up even crazier methods of getting back on solid ground.
Gone Girl has all the makings of a mile-a-minute sexy drama in the same league as Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. It pulls out all the stops and ventures fairly deep into the well of implausibility, but keeps the tension constant enough to forgive its shortcomings. The plot keeps itself engaging, whipping away from one character to another and barely giving the audience a moment to catch their breath or question the logic. What helps draw our eyes more is the way Fincher puts an artistic flair on the minutia of a dying married life. The entire film is seen in desaturated tones and there is a creepy vibe to the staging of the shots. It perfectly captures the nightmare of a relationship that has dropped to a dark place where it will continue to fester.
Gone Girl is a sick, depressing, bloody, sexual and even comical film that holds a certain nihilism in its subject matter. In its artistic madness, however, there is a certain odd beauty to a story filled with despicable characters doing despicable acts. It could’ve easily just have been a simple bit of trashy cinema where a woman mentally destroys her husband, but Fincher’s direction combined with Gillian Flynn’s screenplay and Trent Reznor’s pulsating score amplify the story to a higher level. Rather than simplifying all the emotions from such a contrived plot, Fincher allows the film to violently evolve through its many twists and turns, dancing on the lines of gender roles and media hogwash. It’s such a strange beast you can’t help but be entertained by for all its chaos.