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Gone Girl - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published October 4th 2014
You don't know what you've got 'til its gone
Director: David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

Gillian Flynn' s black and twisty best selling novel Gone Girl arrives on the big screen with the kind of polish you'd expect from David Fincher. The director has shown a penchant for serial killers over the years (Se7en, Zodiac) and continues to explore the dark side of the human mind here. Fans of the book will be pleased at how much remains in tact, not surprising considering the screenplay was adapted by Flynn herself.

gone girl ben affleck
Nick Flynn (Ben Affleck) alongside a picture of his missing wife Amy (Rosamund Pike)

The missing girl of the title is Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), wife of Nick (Ben Affleck), who disappears on their 5th anniversary. What follows is a labyrinthine turn of events, tracing the disintegration of their marriage in a series of flashbacks, while the clues to Amy's disappearance spill forward in the present.

To reveal much more would be to deprive the uninitiated the pleasure of witnessing the sheer ingenuity of the plot. Suffice to say the banal and beautiful facade of this seemingly harmonious couple soon develops seriously ugly cracks.

gone girl ben affleck rosamund pike
Amy and Nick in happier times

It's pretty dark material, offering a bleak portrayal of a marriage, suburbia and the tabloid media. This is ruthless, loveless ambition with a lead couple that become increasingly unlikeable.

Flynn said she imagined a Hitchcockian ice-queen blonde as Amy, and there is certainly a cold beauty to Pike that makes her a good fit for the role. Affleck's Nick is less alienating, being flawed in ways that make him more pathetic than loathsome.

It's up to the supporting characters to provide an entry point for the audience. In this respect, both Carrie Coon as Nick's sharp-as-a-tack twin sister and Tyler Perry as opportunistic crack lawyer Tanner Bolt are highly entertaining, dishing out the film's best lines with a mixture of bewilderment and awe at the events unfolding before them.

gone girl ben affleck rosamund pike

The film is literally dark too, in particular the flashbacks which contrast the happiness of earlier events with dim and shadowy lighting.

Regular Fincher collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who won an Oscar for The Social Network) have created an electronic score that bubbles expectantly under the surface, building up for the next revelation.

When all is said and done, Gone Girl is a well constructed piece of pulp. It manages to suspend disbelief thanks to smart storytelling and with a briskness of pace that belies its two and a half hour running time.

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Why? A dark and twisty thriller
Where: At cinemas everywhere
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