“You ever hear the expression ‘The simplest answer’s often the correct one’?” asks one detective to another. “Actually,” comes the response. “I’ve never found that to be true.” Thus, in a single brief exchange is the key to unravelling Gone Girl. Don’t worry, though, you’ll never figure it out on your own.
Based on the smash hit novel of the same name, Gone Girl follows everyman husband Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) through the aftermath of arriving home on the day of his wedding anniversary to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike)…well, gone. One of the key problems critics had with the novel is that to say literally any more of the story is to start giving the game away, where even the slightest revelation could lead one to start drawing conclusions well before they’re due. It’s that sort of book where you could give away one minor development and end with death by a thousand cuts and the film is no different. Yes, there are twists. No, they are not cheap. With author Gillian Flynn adapting her own novel for the screen the beats are largely the same, leading plot virgins down the same schizophrenic (sociopathic?) path that we readers devoured years ago. And for the readers? Seeing the dark mystery unfold so faithfully is but one thrill. Gauging the reactions of newcomers is another.
As a movie, perhaps the biggest deviation (or elaboration, even) from the source material is the tone. With actors and scenery and scope to play with Gone Girl is funny. Not laugh-a-minute funny, certainly, but often deeply, darkly hilarious. Shining a spotlight on the inanity of dissecting human nature, trying to make sense of seeds of seething discontent, this is a provoking and challenging thriller that has style enough to show the ridiculous, circus-like media cycle that we’ve all accepted with no question. How long can you do the same trick before juggling leads to a witch-hunt?
To single out any single actor would be an act of futility as director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network) has had the sort of legendary career that has precluded him from working with actors unworthy of his stylish presentation. Affleck stands out by sheer virtue of the amount of screentime held but snide shots at his acting chops have never felt entirely warranted and he’s unlikely to face much criticism for a grounded lead performance here. As far as direction goes, early on it may feel to some as if Gone Girl is a companion piece to Fincher’s previous feature The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. By the end such comparison proves plentifully apt, especially considering that both features just about force themselves to the finish line. These are long movies and not a moment is wasted but if there’s one lesson to be taken from Fincher’s latest it’s that tension can only be ratcheted so far for so long.
As far as the simplest answer being the correct one? Well, it depends on the question. Missing wife, Amy, made a career of writing quizzes for magazines, so how might she phrase it?
What is David Fincher’s latest movie?
A) Overly long
B) Predictably stylish
C) Very, very good
D) All of the above
Answer: D, totally D.
Buzzing with dark humour and twists from beginning to end, Gone Girl continues Fincher’s streak of adapting best-selling novels with his own harsh slant.
Gone Girl is in wide release in theatres everywhere now. If you’re interested in reading the source novel, check it out here,