DIRECTOR: David Finchergone_girl_ver2

CAST: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Casey Wilson, Missi Pyle, Sela Ward, Emily Ratajkowski, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Lisa Banes, David Clennon, Scoot McNairy, Boyd Holbrook, Lola Kirke, Cyd Strittmatter, Leonard Kelly-Young

RUNNING TIME: 149 mins

CERTIFICATE: 18

BASICALLY…: On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne (Pike) goes missing and in the media circus that follows suspicion falls on her husband Nick (Affleck)…

 

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

David Fincher certainly has a knack for the dark and brooding, whether it be focused on a serial killer, a dangerous cult, or even the biggest social networking website in history. But with Gone Girl, Fincher proves he also has an appetite for an unexpected genre: the romantic-comedy.

However, by no means is Gone Girl – adapted from Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel into a screenplay also by Flynn – a pure disciple of the genre. It still very much has that pitch-black tone we’ve come to expect from the director’s filmography, as well as a desire to guiltily entertain viewers with its straightforward style and moments of internal rage. This is the type of film that begins with phrases like “bashing your skull in” as a means to romantically connect. But make no mistake, this is the closest Fincher has come to rom-com territory since Fight Club’s meet-cute between Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter at a testicular cancer meeting. Except this film may have more balls than anyone else at that meeting.

Opening quite ominously with a rapid-fire of quick establishing shots, ultimately setting the rushed and intentionally uncomfortable tone (props to regular Fincher editors, Oscar-winners Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, for once more doing a fine job with creating a series of images that flow smoothly and jagged simultaneously), we are transported shortly after to a much more conventional staple of feminine rom-coms, namely a diary in which female lead Amy (Rosamund Pike, marvellous and fearless all throughout) writes her thoughts. Naturally, it is filled with things that even Bridget Jones may cringe at like how she met a guy at a party – her future husband and our male lead Nick (Ben Affleck, impressive and unrelenting) – and her over-enthusiastic excitement over her engagement. Of course, this being Fincher’s perspective on the world, things turn much darker as the film goes on and the couple’s supposed happiness eventually becomes anything but. During the disappearance plot thread that dominates a good chunk of the film’s first half, we are being led to believe that Affleck may well and truly be the one causing this unhappiness and even caused moments of spousal abuse and deviancy. Playing along the lines of a typical “missing persons” thriller like The Vanishing or even Affleck’s own directional outing Gone Baby Gone, the evidence seems to pile up against Nick and the romantic illusion, it would seem, is completely shattered.

Then we get to the mid-way point, where something is revealed (no spoilers here, mind) that pretty much changes everything about how we’ve perceived the events before, not unlike Fight Club’s own game-changing twist. It’s extremely difficult to talk about it without giving anything away (though we imagine that those who have read the book can make a guess as to what revelation we are referring to), but know that from there things get infinitely more engaging than they already were. In terms of the rom-com genre, whereas the first half did everything in its power to pollute each essential convention of the genre, everything from this twist onward proceeds to beat it to a bloody pulp, drench it in oil, set it ablaze, dump its ashes down the toilet, do its business before flushing it all down, and then repeat the exact same process to five different genre conventions just to be safe. It’s all so recognisably Fincher in all its dark and borderline sinister nature that it’s impossible not to get sucked in to it all, and with this twist as in her book Flynn proves to be as formidable a filmmaking ally with a precise and witty script that brings the right balance of suspense and surprise. Apparently, these two are working together on HBO’s American remake of Channel 4 conspiracy thriller Utopia – we can’t wait to see how that works out with these people involved.

From Jeff Cronenworth’s atmospheric and calm-before-the-storm digital cinematography to the impeccably moody score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, to even affective supporting players like Carrie Coon as Affleck’s twin sister, Neil Patrick Harris as Amy’s obsessed former beau and even Tyler Perry as a charming lawyer, everything falls into place for a near-flawless examination of love and unhappy marriages that’s nothing like any true rom-com before it. If anything, it’s the defining anti-rom-com, rivalling that of Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road for its dour and heartbreakingly true(ish) portrayals.

Readers may be satisfied with how the novel has been adapted by the author into film, and fans of Fincher’s past work will be just as pleased with his trademark style being incorporated into a perfectly matched screenplay. Though perhaps a little too long with an ending that seems to go on for longer than it needs, audiences will find much demented joy in Gone Girl and, most importantly, a gleefully darker alternative to the Richard Curtis line of lovey-dovey films.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Gone Girl is a thoroughly entertaining autopsy of the rom-com genre, mixed with gleefully dark direction by David Fincher, tongue-in-cheek writing by the book’s author Gillian Flynn, and two excellent lead performances by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Fincher fans as well as devotees of the book will find much to admire here, and for couples going in to see this movie together all we can say is, “good luck.”