David Fincher, with all his versatility and boldness, demonstrates his cinematic mastery in his perfectly paced and equally eerie thriller, Gone Girl. Fincher’s return to the screen seems to have come out of nowhere. Gone Girl is one of those triumphant and surprising gems that often arrives unexpectedly in October, getting us all in the mood for award season. As the season’s tick over, so does the mood of the global cinema landscape. We’re still months away from the glamorous ceremonies of the Academy Awards and the BAFTAs but remarkable films like Gone Girl seem to storm into our local multiplexes, demanding to be seen and reassuring us that a season of serious cinema has arrived. When Nick Dunne’s wife Amy goes missing his life is altered dramatically. His world tilts another uneasy few degrees when he finds himself to be a suspect in the investigation into her disappearance and possible murder. Here, Fincher cleverly balances character. Initially we route for Nick who is the apparent main character. When we suddenly begin to doubt Nick, so does his wife’s family and his local community and media. Gone Girl opens as a straightforward murder mystery but quickly becomes a much darker tale of abuse, marriage, love, hate and control. Gone Girl unravels at a glorious rate. It is artistic, daring and delicately treated by a director who understands the key to great mysterious storytelling. Gone Girl resonates through the screen, echoing the same intensity of Fincher’s other greatest work such as Seven and Zodiac.
The film’s performances compliment the dark atmosphere created by the pacing and score. The film is rarely without some sort of haunting composition dancing faintly in the background. This is a score that creates a wave on which the film rides and flows from. Gone Girl contains numerous outstanding performances from a diverse and unrivalled cast. Ben Affleck, a screen performer I am rarely blown away by, gives a layered performance which deepens simultaneously with the narrative. Affleck captures Dunne’s shortcomings – making him a flawed but believable husband in a crumbling and sour marriage. He is sinister yet charming and can switch between murder suspect and self-loathing husband, instantly. Rosamund Pike is a force of nature. Her performance is chilling. Her beauty only heightens the fear her character both feels and inflicts. She is monstrous but meek. I can’t remember the last time I witnessed such a display of feminine monstrosity on film. Pike is mesmerising and undeniably perfect at capturing the woman who is not only miserably married but now missing and mysterious. Neil Patrick Harris was originally a little distracting as a menacing character from Amy’s past but soon relaxed into one of the film’s most unsettling roles. Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens are both excellent in the roles of two very different women in Nick’s life who are both seeking the truth about Amy’s disappearance. Gone Girl is exquisitely paced and has set the standard for all the other creepy contenders in this winter’s film season. It takes great talent to make a film so consistently intense and captivating that runs at such a long length. Fincher rarely disappoints. Gone Girl came out of nowhere, comes in with guns blazing and leaves its horrifying mark as it exits.
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