Whenever a mystery film appears, people generally know what takes place – a crime happens, multiple suspects are questioned and the real perpetrator is slowly, methodically found-out. But if such a film were to suddenly abandon that formula at the halfway point, one might feel slightly cheated, even if what remains is highly entertaining.
School teacher Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) resides in Missouri with his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), a native of New York and best-selling children’s author. On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick returns home – having spent the morning with his sister Margo (Carrie Coon) at her bar – to find a coffee table upturned and Amy missing. The police are called to investigate, only for Nick to discover that he is the main suspect in Amy’s disappearance.
As the films continues, excerpts of Amy’s diary are presented to the viewer, painting her husband as a deceptive, aggressive, physical and financially-inept man who hides his darkness behind a charming façade. It is also revealed that Nick is having an affair with one of his students (Emily Ratajkowski) and had planned on divorcing Amy – on the very day she disappeared, no less.
None of this looks good for Nick, who maintains his innocence and is desperate to distance himself from any allegations. With the national press hounding him, Nick decides to conduct his own covert search for Amy, using clues that she herself planted. Following his movements closely is Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) of the local police force who, like many others, believes that Nick has a hand in the vanishing of his wife.
The first half of the plot has one certain that Gone Girl is a typical murder-mystery with the budget and star-power of a blockbuster, and a pretty good one at that – it’s tense, suspenseful and keeps the audience intrigued with every new bit of information, each of which places more guilt on Nick. By the halfway point, the viewer is just about convinced that Nick has murdered Amy, until an absolute bombshell of a revelation that turns the film on its head.
To divulge what that twist is would be a crime, and ruin one of the film’s best moments; what can be said, though, is that Gone Girl’s latter half does away with the mystery and intrigue that drives the earlier parts. As a result of this change, the story becomes less investing, and the viewer is left unmoved by the events that follow. This isn’t to suggest that Gone Girl becomes a bad film, only that it pales in comparison to the first half.
Nevertheless, overall Gone Girl is superb. Particularly worthy of attention is Ben Affleck, whose casting as Nick Dunne is a stroke of genius – here is an actor often criticised for his hammy, lacklustre performances and using that criticism to his advantage, fitting perfectly into the role of an accused murderer who hasn’t the faintest idea how to act innocent. Equally stunning is Rosamund Pike, bringing her dramatic talents to the fore like no time previously.
The script, even with its second half, also deserves praise. As said above, it’s mysterious and intriguing to begin with, before morphing into an entirely different story that isn’t without its smarts. Additionally, it has a knack for utilising comedy – properly funny comedy, at that – whenever an easing of tension is required. Kudos to Gillian Flynn, who not only wrote Gone Girl for the screen, but also the novel on which it is based.
With its clever writing and stellar leads, Gone Girl is a drama that stuns by subverting all expectations. The lack of a whodunit element in latter portions is very disappointing, but other than that, the film is certainly worth the watch.
This film was previously reviewed for YO Bendigo on November 3rd, 2014.
2 thoughts on “Gone Girl”
I love this movie. Wasn’t expecting much walking into it, but it completely took me by surprise and keep super invested in the story. Plus, I thought that Pike was excellent in the movie.
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I was in much the same boat – the film only piqued my interest after everybody, my friends included, started raving about it, before I too became a fan.
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