Gone Girl offers a slick, suspenseful ride
Gone Girl opens with the back of a blond head being caressed by a man’s hands. The head obviously belongs to a beautiful and elegant woman, resting on the chest of her loving and doting husband. Suddenly, the husband’s (Ben Affleck’s) thoughts are introduced via voice-over: “What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other?” These fundamental questions will undoubtedly haunt the rest of the film.
He keeps caressing the golden strands of his wife’s hair, as his thoughts turn darker: “I imagine cracking open her head, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers.” His wife (Rosamund Pike) turns to him with a look of concern, almost as if she has heard his thoughts as the screen fades to black and the unraveling of their marriage begins.
Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel, Gone Girl is about a wife who goes missing in the midst of a troubled marriage. The premise seems simple and intriguing, but Flynn dives into a story of dark complexity that’s drenched in tension and suspense —so much so that the novel has spent over 79 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list and has sold over 6 million copies. So when a film adaptation was announced with director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) aboard, many people were not only aware of the plot twists that the movie entails, but also held a certain set of expectations.
In short: The film definitely holds up. With the screenplay adapted by Gillian Flynn herself, the film is loyal to the plot of the novel while offering a deliciously slick account of a marriage gone horribly wrong as Nick Dunne (Affleck) finds his Missouri McMansion in carefully crafted disarray as his wife, Amy Elliot Dunne (Pike), is nowhere to be found. The film immediately alternates between the contradictory narratives of Nick and Amy, as Nick struggles to adjust to the national attention of his case while Amy details their tenuous marriage through her diary entries.
Fincher exhibits a superb craft in filmmaking. The film is slick and suspenseful, carefully building up in moments when we don’t know who’s guilty of what. The restrained ambience of the film heightens the audience’s fear that some characters are not as good as they seem, as they meticulously mask their more depraved selves from the public.
Fincher and Flynn understand and show that Gone Girl is more than a murder mystery. It presents a distorted view that crushes the overly idyllic and abstract idea of marriage.
Of course, marriage is hard, hard work. In marriage, you are annoyed with or may even resent your spouse, but spouses have to learn to work and even fight productively.
Through the ups and downs, husband and wife will be able to make it work and love each other even more as they get to know each other more. Marriage turns many spouses into better people; for Nick and Amy Dunne, that’s not the case. The more they resent each other, the less they realize they know each other. Gone Girl dissects the marriage of two inherently selfish people and, despite whether they are inherently good or evil, they were meant for each other.
‘Til death do they part.