Director David Fincher is a master of suspense, tension, and twisted storytelling. The man behind Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Zodiac loves to draw us into dark, bleak, and visually-stunning stories about the lives of messed up people.
He makes the mundane into art – and Gone Girl is no exception.
On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick’s (Ben Affleck) beautiful wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing – and the crime scene in their home looks eerily staged. Law enforcement and an ever-growing media attention quickly cause the whole world to begin to ask the same question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?
Gone Girl is insane. Twisted. Messed up. It’s a brilliantly-made film, but it is not for the faint of heart. It thrills, disgusts, and subtly terrifies.
Gone Girl is a look at a marriage in shambles. Some may confuse the film for a profound piece of art that speaks volumes about modern marriage, but it’s ultimately just a slick, well-polished thriller about two married people who have used their marriage — and each other — for the absolute worst reasons. It’s haunting, and it’s incredibly tense. But it’s pulpy well-crafted entertainment.
Its dark comedy brings an odd quality of humor to the chilling story, and Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are at their absolute best in Gone Girl, both giving performances that are subtly layered and ever-changing.
And as for David Fincher, he’s simply a master of tension. Gone Girl is not his best film, but it is still an impressive achievement in tone, character, and world-building.
Many do not respond well to Fincher’s sense of cynical storytelling, and that’s perfectly understandable. In a Fincher film, the world is a dark, sick, and hopeless place. I don’t necessarily relate to this aspect of Fincher’s films, but he is such an artist that it’s hard not to fall for the mysterious little worlds he creates.
In Gone Girl, morality is a grayscale, and the audience is left to make their own judgments in determining between good and evil. Both Nick and Amy’s selfishness led them to opposite extremes, and crumbled their marriage. And in some respects, there is no clear-cut resolution to this haunting tale.
Did they ever really “love” each other in the first place?
Is the film’s conclusion actually a worse punishment for Nick than what he originally feared?
Did anyone really “win?” Or did these two miserable people get what they deserved in the end?
The world of Gone Girl is surprisingly complex, and its twisted thrills come at a lightning-fast speed. It’s not perfect, but it is an exceptionally-made film (for those able to handle it) that must be discussed and wrestled with.
Gone Girl will stay with you.
Gone Girl is rated R for language, sexual content, and violence. This film can be highly disturbing, and is not appropriate for any children, or anyone unable to handle this level of disturbing storytelling. It is brilliantly-made, but stay away if you are easily unsettled, frightened, or upset.
© Matt Tory, 2014.