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At first it would appear to be a film in line with acclaimed director David Fincher’s last effort The Social Network rather than his earlier works, but by the end, Gone Girl is strangely reminiscent of Fight Club. Aesthetically it’s a lot cleaner, but reaches the same surreal heights that Fincher soared to in 1999.
In fact it’s this jarring transition that is perhaps the film’s biggest flaw; the first third feels almost like an entirely different film not quite in line with the more preposterous second and third acts. “Logically sound” is certainly not a phrase you will ever hear someone utter about Gone Girl, but once you accept that fact it’s easy to forgive when it’s so compelling on the whole.
After his wife mysteriously disappears, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is faced with a media frenzy as his dysfunctional marriage is exposed. It’s a compelling tale shedding light on years of dark secrets, all centred around the wonderfully fractured marriage between Nick and Amy (Rosamund Pike) which we see unfold through various flashbacks.
Fincher creates a wonderful juxtaposition between on-screen action and the score, with violent scenes being paired with wistful dream-like music to make them all the more disturbing.
The final act in particular has a wonderful sense of unpredictability; anything can and does happen. Like all the best thrill rides, the build-up is just as intense and enjoyable as the inevitable drop: Gone Girl builds, ratchets up the pressure and explodes. The opening fifty minutes is a constant guessing game as you try to work out the true version of events.
David Fincher always seems to get the best out of his cast. Jesse Eisenberg, Brad Pritt and Edward Norton have all had career best performances under him and Ben Affleck is no exception here. Much of the joy of the film is trying to figure Nick Dunne out as a character; despite never being able to trust him, we can’t help but root for him.
Rosamund Pike hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire recently but she gives a career defining performance here as the perfect counter to Affleck. Amy appears to be typical American sweetheart on the surface but she hides a much more sinister side. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike have excellent chemistry and the best scenes in the film tend to feature the two of them, often locked in a battle for dominance.
But like most of his films, the best part of Gone Girl is arguably David Fincher himself. He handles a complex plot that could have easily fallen apart in the hand of a lesser director. But the most credit should probably go to Gillian Flynn, not just for writing the book on which the film is based, but for handling the screenplay so that the tight narrative lends itself perfectly to film.
Rarely does Gone Girl put a foot wrong, and when it does it’s so easy to forgive that it’s barely worth mentioning. Managing to be both deeply disturbing yet strangely funny, this is one of 2014’s most engrossing films.