David Fincher’s last film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a slick yet ultimately unnecessary remake of the Swedish thriller of the same name. Fincher’s dark, brooding style has become inseparable from the thriller genre and continues to garner critical acclaim and box office profits. It was therefore fairly predictable that Gone Girl, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel, wouldn’t be a massive departure from the director’s usual morbid and intense offerings. And while it lacks a certain distinctive edge within the genre, it’s still a captivating and sophisticated thriller with great lead and supporting performances.
Dealing with the manipulative sensibilities of the press, the mundanity of suburban life, the economic crisis, the modern concept of “family”, depression, and murder, Fincher seems to be at home in an environment of unhappiness and spitefulness. And it becomes progressively clear through the course of the film that he intends to throw the audience head first without buoyancy and restraint. While the motives and the sequences of events are questionable at times, Gone Girl’s sheer temperament and ever-changing pace proves to be rather engrossing.
As with most of Fincher’s work, the term “likeable” never truly fits into his characters' compositions. Gone Girl is no different. Glimmers of compassion and goodwill come from Carrie Coon and some light humour from a surprisingly good Tyler Perry, but they’re battling an uphill struggle against the grim themes of the film. Rosamund Pike’s mentally unstable Amy, brings back memories of a crazed Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. With a spectacularly vocal and physical presence, she easily steals every scene and arguably the entire film. Her pale complexion, starry gaze and machiavellian smile leave a lasting impression that lingers throughout. Meanwhile Ben Affleck’s acting renaissance continues as the conflicted and clueless husband tumbling through the consequences of both his and Amy’s actions. The film’s depiction of a conflicted household and local community is an uncomfortable yet engaging one that draws comparisons with Thomas Vinterberg’s magnificent The Hunt, which I highly recommend.
Gone Girl isn’t a perfect film. The story can be incoherent and absurd at times, and happiness never breaches the harsh surface of misery and bitterness. Yet from the superb production design and cinematography to the uncompromising subject matter and memorable characters, this is unquestionably a David Fincher film. And a very good one at that.