Three years on from his excellent remake of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’, David Fincher’s return to the big screen comes in the form of the long-awaited ‘Gone Girl’, based on Gillian Flynn’s eponymous novel. Indeed, Flynn herself wrote the screenplay for the film and has been very encouraging about the film’s existence and Fincher’s role in adapting it from the page to the silver screen and also approving of his main cast, namely Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, in the lead roles as Nick and Amy Dunne. Unquestionably the undeniably talented Pike’s biggest and most challenging role to date, it remained to be seen how she dealt with that. Affleck himself, despite being a seasoned actor, is quite a polarising screen presence having once been a Razzie regular, but has launched a career renaissance that left most anticipating his role in the film rather than dreading it.
It’s good to say as a result that both of them are brilliant in their roles, and Pike in particular is so good that Academy Award nominations shouldn’t be too far away at all. Her chemistry with Affleck is flawless, the shifting dynamics are always believable, shifting and changing with a script that is packed with twists and turns, Flynn’s script providing them with ample amounts of good dialogue to work with, and her American accent is pretty darn good to boot. There aren’t many actors that could pull off a role as complex as this one, but Pike really does and her performance is one that hits home so hard it won’t leave you for a good long while after the film is done. Affleck himself also gives one of his strongest performances, showing how talented he is as a character who, much like his wife, is not quite what he seems. The role really brings out the best in him as he is forced to show the many difference sides of Nick Dunne and really throw himself at the role to accomplish it to the extent that is needed, which means the phoned-in performances of the past that he was so lambasted for can gradually be laid to rest.
Along with the top acting performances, director David Fincher had to be on top form to keep the film’s complex narrative together, and he does that in typical perfectionist style. Working closely with long-time collaborating cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth he creates an environment dripping with uncertainty, so well engineered that every frame of the film conveys something, from the closing of a door to the photo frames on the wall, Fincher makes sure he uses everything to lay this wonderful elaborate trap for us to fall in to and get lost in. Renowned for being a fan of repetition and continuous filming, his meticulous style is definitely rewarded. He’s also aided by a brilliant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, with whom he has now collaborated on three consecutive films and whose sensibilities seem to match perfectly. This score is packed with continuous drones that can be unbearable at times, driving the tension up threefold and leaving you glued to the screen. It’s definitely another success.
Sure it can be said that the film, which comes in at 149 minutes, definitely moves at a deliberate pace that may rankle with some in the first act, but the way it ramps up makes the lingering moments of set-up worth it as Fincher pokes and teases you in to the mystery rather than throwing you right in to it. While it may not be the case that time flies while the film is progressing, this is not necessarily a bad thing since it forces you to focus on every moment as the anxiety grows for just about everyone. It’s a film that sets out to do something and does it as well as possible, creating a tense thriller that shocks and enthralls. While it’s certainly the case that the cinematic cut feels somewhat like the extended DVD release with its meandering character-oriented scenes, it makes sure that it all comes good in the end. Fincher knows how to make intelligent and dark thrillers, and he’s done it again here with a film that is bound to have couples looking at each other with a new sense of dread.
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