Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl is an exquisitely crafted piece of contemporary film making. Its visual aesthetic is sleek, elegant and ever so modern. At times the interior shots of Nick and Amy’s Missouri home, take on an almost clinical quality. Everything is of the finest quality but utterly soulless. This of course is the central theme of the entire movie. This is a tale to two people with no true identity of their own, who are desperately pursuing an abstract concept of who and what they should be. Gone Girl is about utterly dysfunctional, broken people, the worst excesses of the consumerist culture and the stark impact that rolling news has upon public opinion. It is not the overall storyline that is horrific but the reality of the world in which it takes place. It makes for fascinating viewing but leaves one feeling incredibly bleak about certain quarters of society.
Failing author Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pyke) missing and signs of struggle. The Police are initially sympathetic but when Nick fails to behave in accordance with public expectations at the press conference, opinion and tabloid outrage turns against him. It is not long before evidence indicates that not all is well in their relationship and Nick becomes the prime suspect in a potential murder investigation. Of course, nothing is as it seems and the movie re-invents itself several time during the two and half hour duration.
Gone Girl does not shy away from examining the reality of a failed relationship and the dialogue is frequently ripe and the camera unflinching. Director David Fincher, along with writer Gillian Flynn who adapted her own novel, dissects the hollow existence of the aspirational classes as well as their warped interpretation of the institution of marriage. Perhaps the movies boldest move is its scrutiny of sexual politics and gender roles in modern America. There are monologues stripped straight from the book that may shock those of a more conservative nature, in that “did she really say that out loud” way?
Like so many movies of this nature that are centred on a complex mystery and plots within plots, it falls down somewhat during the third act when trying to neatly bring all the plot threads together. Yet this does not mitigate the films core themes, nor diminish the strength of the lead performances. Rosamund Pyke is hypnotic whenever on screen. It would also be remiss of me if I didn't mention the movies only likeable character that of Detective Rhonda Boney played with conviction by Kim Dickens.
On many levels Gone Girl is an extremely laudable piece of film making. It is confident, technically outstanding and emotionally detached from its subject matter. Often, we are simply shown events and left to dwell on them from our own moral and ethical perspective. Yet my enjoyment of the movie was tempered by the fact that I was consciously prejudice towards the central characters. This is a movie about what I consider to be awful human beings and the very culture that makes them the way they are. Such an exploration is fascinating to behold but simultaneously repellent due to my lack of empathy towards these dry husks, masquerading as people.