WARNING: What you are about to read is a review of the film Gone Girl. It is blanketed in spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film or perused the novel and would prefer your experience of either to remain fresh and untainted by such things, I implore you to wait before proceeding. Otherwise, let’s deconstruct this story a little bit, shall we?
To be candid, I entered the theater with an already fully-formed presupposition of this film – or so I thought. Having discussed a bit of the book from which it was adapted a few days prior, I arrogantly believed I knew the basic plot structure and what the “big reveal” would inevitably be: girl disappears, husband is implicated in her apparent murder, girl fakes her own death as an act of revenge – ta-da! Quite the gross oversimplification on my part. It would appear I am not as clever as I’d like to think I am.
The CliffsNotes-version of the story plays out as follows: Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) goes missing and her husband Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is implicated as a suspect in her disappearance and what is believed to be her possible murder. Through flashback sequences of their relationship we are given little tidbits about both. Amy is a highly intelligent woman from a well-to-do family and Nick is an average Joe with little ambition to accomplish more than the bare minimum in life. As the story progresses, we come to learn how unhinged Amy truly is; a sociopathic predator whose nitwit-of-a-husband blindly stumbles into every trap she sets for him. When it is revealed that Amy is in fact alive and the measures she has taken to ensure Nick’s infidelity does not go unpunished, you can’t help but feel sorry for him, while at the same time annoyed by his doltishness. Amy is a cunning and methodical individual who molds Nick into the lover she desires him to be, much the way a painter utilizes a blank canvas to transmogrify an idea into beautiful art. It’s unsettling to watch yet I could not turn away. Rosamund Pike’s performance may have very well frightened me into remaining single for the rest of my days. Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’ score succeeds in topping the creepiness-level off with a perfectly lush cherry.
The film tackles multiple themes in its 2-plus hour duration: the media’s blind willingness to crucify someone solely based on circumstantial evidence – guilty until proven innocent, the masks we all wear in public while our true selves slumber underneath waiting to emerge in private, the unrealistic expectations we impose on our partners, the manipulative power of perception – these are just the ones I initially recognized, but I’m sure more can be found. There are also numerous plot points to ruminate over, most notably how skillfully Amy frames her husband. At first, it appears that Amy’s fabricated crime scene in her and Nick’s home is clumsy and filled with holes. But then you soon realize this was her intent all along; to leave evidence of an apparent cover-up. Quite ingenious, really.
I haven’t read the book so I am unable to make comparisons between novel and adaptation. The film on its own is superb. I won’t say it’s some of Fincher’s finest work because every one of his films are works of art, in my humble opinion. They all have their own voice. Gone Girl owes a substantial amount of its brilliance to Gillian Flynn as well – author of its source material and writer of its adapted screenplay. But at the end of the day, it’s always a joint effort which produces magic on any given film, isn’t it? Gone Girl is a perfect storm of ingenious contributions from every one involved. The ideas this story conjures will remain with you long after you’ve made your exit from the theater. Men in the audience may think twice the next time they foolishly upset their better halves. #DontBeANick