I applaud you, David Fincher. Yet again, Fincher has made a disturbing, thought-provoking and nail-biting movie. Packed with tension, lies and accusations, Gone Girl is truly remarkable.
Starring Ben Affleck as husband Nick Dunne and Rosamund Pike as doting wife Amy, the film is described as portraying ‘modern marriage’. If modern marriage is how it is in Gone Girl then I don’t want to get married any time soon! We’re shown Nick and Amy in their early relationship days; we see them first meet, their charming ways and their love for one another blossom. Their relationship seems like a fairytale, with the treasure hunts that Amy leaves for Nick acting as a sign of the endless fun that the two have together.
Nick is the voice of the present in the majority of the narrative, and we learn more about Amy’s character in scenes referred to in her diary. From her we see how they met, how they fell in love immediately and make it to their fifth wedding anniversary. But then we start to see the cracks show. Before Nick discovers his wife’s disappearance he’s sat in his bar (cleverly named “The Bar”) complaining to his sister of their anniversary tradition of treasure hunts, seemingly bored of his married life. Then Amy’s diary entries before her disappearance, which we see her writing and are shown each entry’s events, steadily become more worrying.
As the media and the nation’s suspicions grow stronger with their fingers pointed directly at Nick, we learn what the real turn of events were the morning that Amy went missing. Through Nick’s story as told to the detectives and his twin sister Margot, and the story that Amy had left behind inside her diary, we as the audience begin to piece things together. But, as with every Fincher film, we’re always led down a different path to what we were expecting.
The Detectives, Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin, offer their thoughts on what happened at the crime scene using the evidence found, which include the clues left behind by Amy for Nick’s treasure hunt. Are they on the right track or are they ready to arrest an innocent man? And are the clues really for the anniversary present? Or for where Amy’s decomposing body lies or an alive Amy sat waiting for Nick, ready to yell “Surprise! Happy anniversary honey!”
The way in which the media can represent people is, I feel, an important aspect of the film. Smile at the press conference held for your missing wife or act friendly towards the community (which just so happen to be female), and suspicions are raised and damage control must be done. With the nation’s hatred and suspicions of Nick growing with each new development, we have to decide whether we believe the picture that the media are painting of Nick from the evidence, or whether we believe the versions of events that he tells the detectives and his sister. Is Nick guilty or is he being framed for a crime he didn’t commit? Nick eventually goes on a TV show to tell his side of the story and pleads with Amy to come home, but with his strange behaviour and the stories in Amy’s diary, how are we to know what the truth is behind her disappearance?
Nick decides to take matters in his own hands to find out just what happened when his wife went missing, following the clues she left behind for his anniversary present and talking to past boyfriends to build his defence. Is he covering his tracks or is he really innocent?
Just when you think you have it figured out, Fincher pulls the rug right from under your feet thanks to the screenplay and novel Gone Girl, both by Gillian Flynn.
Fincher adds a lot of scenes that have the sole purpose of keeping us on our toes. For example, when Amy or Nick hear a noise outside and open the door to investigate, our brain screams at us “someone’s going to jump out at us at any moment!” And do they? No. But we sure thought someone was. We’re kept on edge through the simplest techniques that make us feel uneasy, while our brain is constantly trying to guess what’s about to happen. We feel like if we let our guard down, we’re in for a fright. But the fact is, we have no clue what’s in store. The black screens that the camera cuts to abruptly end a scene and leave us wondering what Fincher is going to surprise us with next. The music itself is almost background noise that mimics the whirring inside our brains and the quickening rate of our heartbeat, building tension and a fear of what’s about to unfold onscreen.
Gone Girl is hanging-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, murder mystery, thriller material that delivers shocking scenes one after the other. Just when you think you’re close to figuring it out a new piece of evidence is found, some of which the detectives have no knowledge about. Amy’s and Nick’s first meeting is the only scene that is natural, a fairytale and something from an old romance movie. But from there we sink into a world full of suspicion, doubts, motives, violence and accusations until suddenly we’re so far and deep into it that the world becomes twisted and messed up on so many levels.
Watch Gone Girl for a movie that’ll thrill your mind as you try to become a detective and fail in so many ways. You’ll be sure to step out of the cinema with your mind still throbbing from exhausting it with different outcomes, only for Fincher and Flynn to end on top. A brilliantly-written narrative with a talented cast (I’ll admit I had my doubts about Affleck, but he really delivered!), Gone Girl is not one to miss. No toilet breaks or blinking – you might miss those important details.