10 years in the making

Gone Girl 2014

As director David Fincher says of Gone Girl, ‘Bad things happen in this film’. The question is, who is doing the bad things?
It’s the morning of the fifth wedding anniversary of the beautiful and clever Amy (played by the beautiful and clever Rosamund Pike), and her handsome husband Nick (played by the handsome Ben Affleck), and Amy has disappeared from their suburban Missouri home. Suspicions fall on Nick. Were they happy together? The tabloid media fuel a frenzy of sensationalist accusations, and the police, led by Boney (Kim Dickens) uncover an intricate trail of evidence that appears to confirm Nick’s guilt. With only his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) to believe him, he’s forced to turn to Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), a charismatic lawyer whose speciality is defending men accused of killing women. The narrative takes us through a clever series of twists and turns, clues and revelations, lies and deceits so that we can’t be sure what is true and what is fiction. It makes for a completely absorbing and gripping two and a half hours.
There are strong performances from all the cast. Ben Affleck manages to portray a man who doesn’t look like a murderer, but who doesn’t look like an entirely innocent husband either, while Rosamund Pike could be the perfect, cool sophisticated and loving wife, or something a lot more dark and calculating. It’s a fantastically complex female role and Pike does is it more than justice.
The story is intriguing on other levels too. The book caused a lot of debate with feminists, amongst whose ranks Gillian Flynn, the author and screenwriter of the film, considers herself. You can’t help but wonder about some of the manipulations of audience sympathy and some of the accusations of misogyny. Are we being sold another female stereotype so loved by the media the film is exposing as sensationalist and destructive?
There’s also controversy about the ending, not only about whether it’s convincing or believable, but also about just desserts and moral equivalence. All of these questions just add to the fascination of an intriguingly dark and complex film.