Published Oct 03, 2014Whether it's the boardroom and dorm room battles of The Social Network or the political power plays at work in House of Cards, it seems like the latter half of David Fincher's career has been focused on the flashy sides of deceit. But in Gone Girl — based on the 2012 bestselling novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn — Fincher is able to combine the fascinating killings of his early years with his recent forays into the underbelly of the corporate and political sphere. It's the perfect union for a film that depicts a couple that is anything but.
Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) are a pair of New York City newlyweds who seemingly have it all: a nice apartment, nice jobs (both work as semi-respectable writers) and a world class love life. When both of them lose their jobs after the economic bubble bursts in the late 2000s, they're forced to move back to Nick's native Missouri to take care of his ailing mother. It's the kind of stress that could cause any couple to crack.
That's why when Nick's wife mysteriously disappears on the morning of their fifth anniversary, he doesn't seem particularly surprised, even when signs show there could have been foul play involved. When a mystery clue is discovered in the couple's home, Nick, his hometown and the country at large go on a search for his supposedly perfect partner, discovering increasingly sinister secrets about her disappearance every step of the way.
It's a classic whodunit that is made all the better by an expertly curated cast of characters. Affleck's generally dopey-eyed demeanour is directed perfectly here to create a character that seems coolly detached and ambivalent throughout (even when facing the death penalty), while Pike's turn as a blonde bombshell of the Fatal Attraction variety is downright refreshing for an actor who has been underused for far too long in pictures starring Simon Pegg.
Latter career collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are back again to do the score. While not as immediately striking as the pair's synthesizer-based excursions in The Social Network, this is certainly their most nuanced soundtrack to date, with burbling soundscapes taking a backseat to the film's major action.
That all being said, the strength of the film ultimately lies in Flynn's screenplay, which seemingly denies all limitations of modern cinema and chooses instead to cram as much story inside of it as possible. This is a picture that tackles life, love, the culture of cable TV, big business, law, justice and the lies that infect all of it. At times it's confusing, but Gone Girl manages to give equal footing to all aspects of its often convoluted storyline, shining a light on the problems of modern marriage and modern society while sucking you in at every twist and turn.
(Twentieth Century Studios)