Gone Girl is the ultimate He said/She said. One of the unreliable narrators of the soon-to-be megahit asks the primary question of the film, in voice-over. It’s about marriage and who your partner really is. “What have we done to each other? What will we do?” With a cast to die for – and some (at least their characters) do or nearly do – they are in perfect symmetry with those of the best-selling novel. The film features Ben Affleck as Nick, a disarmingly charming writer moved back home to the American Midwest after marrying a dream girl of the East Coast elite. She’s Amy – aka “Amazing Amy” of her childhood-inspired story books written with love and profit-making motive by her parents. Rosamund Pike as Amy manages to make the movie her own without disturbing the equilibrium with Affleck.
The movie also settles the question of how much more wonderful a film can be if the writer of the original novel also adapts for film. Here it’s Gillian Flynn, herself a one-time journalist for Entertainment Weekly. The director, David Fincher of the cleverly dark The Social Network, is also in synch with the material: a dim view of the relations between the sexes – at least this couple – brought on by the Recession of 2008. Vocational losses squelch their initially hot romantic pairing; geographical displacement and class differences also unsettle.
Affleck, who can look furtive, brings off Nick’s manipulative nature; Pike is controlling, chillingly beautiful. The thriller mode never had it so good, with police procedurals, disappearing spouses, domestic violence and more. Actors in supporting roles nearly take it away: a soigne Tyler Perry as an attorney Nick hires; Connie Coon as Nick’s twin, demonstrating the built-in genetic loyalties of this set-up; Neil Patrick Harris cast against type as an effete pushover in love with Amy.
Gone Girl | Directed by David Fincher (USA 2014) with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Connie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris. Starts October 2