Lowdown: A wife’s sudden disappearance after 5 years of marriage sets her husband’s world in turmoil.
Gone Girl is one of those movies whose arrival is bundled with severe expectations build up. First there was all the pre-release hype, including numerous references in sources like Time Magazine (and yeah, I know Time is mostly there in order to oil the gears of our consumption). Then came the realisation Gone Girl was directed by David Fincher, of Fight Club, Se7en and even House of Cards fame. Then I learned it was two and a half hours long and features some favourite actors such as Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris. It all adds up: Gone Girl will either be a flop or a pretty good movie.
Luckily, it is the latter.
Easily dividable into three distinct acts, each of which feels like having the potential to act as a film by its own rights, Gone Girl starts off with husband Nick (Ben Affleck) leaving his suburban home in the morning in order to go to the pub. Not your typical morning destination, at least not for a normal looking guy, but as it turns out this is not going to be a normal morning: upon returning home, Nick discovers his wife Amy (Pike) had disappeared without a trace, leaving only signs of mild violence behind.
Nick does the right thing and contacts the police. The police does the right thing and starts looking into the matter very quickly despite its normal cool off period policies for missing persons' cases. With everything done right, the viewer is left unable to shake off the notion there is strangeness about: Nick does the right things, but seems rather indifferent/reluctant about it all. What’s going on here?
Through the police's investigations and revelations we embark on the long journey of figuring out what it is, exactly, that's taking place before our eyes. Actually, most of the things we learn while watching Gone Girl take place through clever editing that carefully controls how much of what the characters already know is revealed to us viewers. What starts as a movie about a missing wife turns into something completely different and then turns into something even different-ier as we trod along and as dirt accumulated through five years of marriage starts to pile up.
In its development and ventures into the unexpected, Gone Girl reminded me mostly of another of Fincher’s movies, The Game. Like its predecessor, Gone Girl can be interpreted as a mystery thriller at face value, but it is also clear the movie is there mostly in order to serve as a metaphor. In the case of Gone Girl, the subject of the metaphor is made explicitly clear through the spoken words of the hero: “That’s marriage”. That is to say, the turmoilous journey taken by our married couple here is a statement on the journey that ordinary marriage is like, with its ups and downs and everything that comes with being intimately tied to a single person over the course of a lifetime. Only that Gone Girl has a very pessimistic outlook on this journey.
Statements aside, Gone Girl is certainly a very well made movie. Fincher is his usual slick self, but mostly it is Pike’s performance that intrigued me the most. She does an excellent job, proving how great it is for a female actress to be given the opportunity to act out a challenging role as opposed to merely having to settle for the part of the lead male character’s pretty girl. Sadly, Pike’s performance renders the rarity of such opportunities plainly obvious.
Overall: Not everything makes sense, the outlook is negative, but Gone Girl certainly has a point to make and makes it well. 4 out of 5 carefully engineered crabs for this girl.