Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's sharp take on Gillian Flynn's bestseller
David Fincher: an excellent choice to direct Gillian Flynn’s whiplashing tale of deceptions. He steers this adaptation with cool, detached technical proficiency and a sense of brutally malicious fun, making Gone Girl as entertainingly gripping as it is smartly disturbing and scathingly satirical.
When Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home on his fifth wedding anniversary to find signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) gone, the who-done-what mystery is eye-catching window dressing for a psychological exploration of how well this seemingly perfect couple really knew one another, and what they may have been capable of doing to each other. 'Amazing' Amy kept a damning diary, and a mounting pile of circumstantial embarrassments cast Nick in the worst possible light, to the raptures of licentious tabloid TV.
The beauty of the novel was its crafty structure and the trickery of its unreliable narrators: Nick’s account takes a credibility knock as his secrets emerge; Amy’s confessional reveals she’s as cunning as she is cute. It’s not quite possible for the film to keep us as wrong-footed. Cinematic point-of-view alone necessarily weights our sympathies with, and increases our belief in Nick, even when he proves not so charming. Fincher does brilliantly, though, handling the tonal shifts between present and past, between the revelation of Amy’s fate and Nick’s ordeal.
Affleck strikes the perfect note between callous cad and disappointed shlub, whose chief failing is his inability to be the dream man he tried to be. Pike - in a bravura, breakout turn - is a blast, exposing sudden, surprising facets of Amy. Around them the ensemble, including loyal sister Carrie Coon, dogged detective Kim Dickens, media-savvy attorney Tyler Perry and Amy’s creepy ex Neil Patrick Harris, are added value.
Ultimately you may think these two deserve each other while, unnervingly, you may eye your partner anxiously, pondering the eternal mystery of what is going on in someone else’s head.
General release from Fri 3 Oct.