Twitter Plot Summary: On the morning of his 5th wedding anniversary, Nick returns home to find his wife is missing – he soon becomes the key suspect.
Five Point Summary:
1. A smashed table. This looks suspicious.
2. And the suspicion falls on Nick.
3. Neil Patrick Harris! Shame he’s miscast.
4. All becomes clear – you’ll see why.
5. Well, this is awkward…
Trying to review Gone Girl without lapsing into spoiler territory is incredibly difficult. Even expanding on the merest detail or plot point could potentially spoil matters for a lot of people interested in seeing it. So whilst avoiding plot discussion has its own problems, singing its praises is, however, very easy indeed. Fincher has, with the assistance of Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own novel, crafted an engaging story that for the first half keeps you guessing as to which perspective you should believe, and in the second half allowing the story to play out at its own pace. Despite being a full 2.5 hours long it never slackens and boredom is unlikely to be a concern. Unless you’re here for a rip roaring action film, in which case you’re better off going and watching Commando.
The plot, in its most basic form, begins with Ben Affleck’s Nick heading out early one morning to the bar he co-owns with his twin sister, the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary. After having a quick round of The Game of Life, he returns home to find his wife – Amy (Rosamund Pike) – has gone missing under suspicious circumstances. After he calls in the police he quickly becomes the main suspect in Amy’s disappearance and before long is vilified by the media as possibly being the killer, having the hallmarks of a sociopath, and so on.
Aside from some possibly questionable gender politics – which is no doubt a deliberate move – there is little to fault. The performances are pitched at exactly the right level, although Neil Patrick Harris is perhaps miscast as a former boyfriend of Amy’s who shows up to assist in the search for her. To say more would again be lurking into spoiler territory, but he has an edge of Barney Stinson to him and never quite manages to shake that image off.
Gone Girl, for all its various twists and turns, is really a film about perception and how this can be twisted by the media, and even by your friends and family, into making you something you may or may not be. There is also a discussion to be had about playing a role in a relationship, making something of yourself that you are not simply to appear at your best to the other person.
Many have been negative about Ben Affleck’s acting abilities in the past, but he’s perfectly cast as Nick, a man who has to deal with the full glare of the media in all its glory. Rosamund Pike meanwhile puts in a career defining performance as Amy that should be Oscar-baiting territory. On face value (as in, the trailer) it might appear that Amy doesn’t have a huge amount to do – those expecting a minimal performance will be pleasantly surprised.
All in all it is a film that deserves discussion, for its complex narrative, the gusto given to the performances, and for not being afraid to tackle some meaty subject matter whilst also providing a darkly humorous edge. The comedy is there, but it is so pitch black you may not even notice it on the first viewing. Some have argued that this is a perfect date movie, and in many respects it is, more so if you want to have a solid discussion about the film’s themes and content. It’s certainly one that requires repeat viewing, although it has the potential to either strengthen or weaken a marriage or partnership. It’s your call if you decide to risk seeing it with your other half.