Gone Girl is directed by David Fincher and written by Gillian Flynn, based on Flynn's 2012 novel of the same name. The film stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Carrie Coon.
If I were to say to you David Fincher's Gone Girl is a horror movie, how would you respond? I would think, if you've seen the movie, the temptation is to disagree, because hardly anything in the movie resembles that of conventional horror movie ingredients: no jump scares or frightening monsters or anything else of the sort. The reason I claim Gone Girl is a horror movie is because of what the film is able to achieve in terms of what all horror movies strive for: to evoke a negative reaction from the viewer and prey on their worst fears. The specific fears that Gone Girl preys on are those of married couples, but I would also throw in the fears of dating couples, because there's some overlap between the two. That being said, Gone Girl easily earns the title of Worst Movie Night Choice for new couples. I would even recommend to not watch it at all with your significant other.
David Fincher is no stranger to psychological thrillers and mysteries, but none of his previous directorial works have taken this deep of a look into the relationship between two people, particularly two people who are a married couple. This is not at all like what you would see in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, as Gone Girl shows us how its two main characters' marriage starts falling apart at the seams, as opposed to how the relationship between Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's characters in Benjamin Button is forced to come apart due to Benjamin Button's reverse aging. The marriage that is vital to Gone Girl's story is a realistic one whose thrills and horrors come from how much the marriage loves to play with your mind, how difficult it is to play the blame game and decide who is more at fault: the husband or the wife. By the end of the movie, there's a clear answer as to which one is the true antagonist, and the thrill rush of Gone Girl is everything that brings us to that conclusion. And once you see how the movie ends and what it means for the husband and the wife, that's when the true horror begins to set in, and your outlook on the entire movie changes for good.
The husband and wife are Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne. The two live in Missouri and have their five year anniversary coming up. The day of their anniversary, Nick returns home from work and finds Amy missing. His only clue of her disappearance is a flipped table with a shattered glass top, but a police walkthrough of the house also reveal blood stains, suggesting there was a struggle and that Amy might have been murdered. It is shown that Amy was the inspiration behind her parents' series of popular Amazing Amy children's books, leading to her disappearance gaining intense media coverage. The evidence found by the police makes them suspicious of Nick, and Nick's awkward behavior leads the media and others around him to believe that he is a sociopath who murdered Amy.
Flashbacks show us how Nick and Amy met, got married, and then how their marriage fell apart; both lost their jobs during the economic recession and moved from New York down to Missouri so that Nick could take care of his sick mother. Nick grew lazy and started cheating on Amy, and Amy chronicled the events by writing entries in a dairy. The present police investigation uncovers proof of financial troubles and domestic disputes, including a medical report indicating that Amy was pregnant. Nick denies knowledge of Amy's pregnancy, leading to greater and greater suspicion that Nick indeed killed his wife.
Gone Girl's story is very spoiler-sensitive, so I have to be extra careful from here on out about what exactly I write. Right from the get-go, David Fincher puts us into an uncomfortable frame of mind, as we hear Nick talk about cracking his wife's "lovely skull, unspooling her brains, trying to get answers", answers about how Amy is feeling and what she is thinking. Nick then asks, "What have we done to each other?" and this immediately deposits into us a feeling of distrust, that this relationship isn't what we think it may be. As this scene goes on, we get our first exposure to the soothing, yet unnerving score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which continues while the opening credits roll over various shots of the Missouri town where the majority of the film takes place. Fincher relies on a cool color palette and shadowy interiors to keep up the feeling of discomfort we get from the opening, never letting up over the course of the film's 149 minutes. Even when, in the final 15-20 minutes when it seems like everything plot-wise is wrapped up and the film is coming to a close, there's still discomfort, and then comes the ending that will leave the ill-prepared viewer a little messed up afterwards.
- I always thought the Pearl Harbor's and Gigli's of the early 2000's marked the death of Ben Affleck, the actor, with Affleck eventually going on and finding that directing was something he had a gift for. And while Affleck seemed to revive his acting credibility with the success of films like State of Play, The Town, and Argo (the latter two he also directed), none of his performances in those films come as close as to what Affleck achieves acting-wise in Gone Girl. Affleck shines bright as Nick Dunne, a character whose struggles almost exactly mirror those of Affleck himself. Everyone and his brother hates Nick Dunne in the early parts of the film, until Nick is able to redeem himself and make up for the way he had treated Amy before she went missing. Affleck got a lot of ridicule for how a lot of his movies turned out in the early 2000's part of his career, but if Affleck's directing success hadn't been enough to redeem him, the critical and box office success of Gone Girl definitely will. Affleck makes the most out of his role, with Rosamund Pike shining as bright if not brighter than Affleck in her role. Rosamund Pike's Amy Dunne is the perfect mixture of everything she needs to be: beautiful, vulnerable, but also cunning. She can go from innocent wife to scary psychopath in the blink of an eye, fantastically blurring the line between Amy Dunne as the the marriage victim and Amy Dunne as the marriage perpetrator. Pike got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and rightfully so. This is a performance that will make husbands stay up a little bit longer at night.
- The truth is that there actually isn't a whole lot of mystery to be had in Gone Girl, the movie telling us not even halfway through what happened to Amy. Suspense comes from not knowing which of the possible outcomes will occur (unless you've read the book). We know all the plot lines will intersect sooner or later, but we can't quite put our finger on what exactly the outcome will be. There's really no point in me keeping this vague: Nick's innocence should never really be in question. It would be too easy to think that he killed Amy and is hiding her body somewhere. I'm not going to flat out tell you what happened to Amy, but I will inform you that the movie hardly gives you a reason to like Nick and feel sympathetic towards him. Despite Nick being a dishonest husband, murder is something most likely not in his thoughts. So what exactly is the low point? It's that Gone Girl is pretty light on actual mystery, and that is likely what you were not expecting going in. Regardless, the movie still works as a very memorable piece of psychological horror.
Know this much about Gone Girl: it is an all-out attack on marriage, fully exposing some of the dark, ugly truths of marriage that people don't want to think about when they see proposal and engagement photos on Facebook or any other social media platform. Strengthened by stand-out performances from Affleck and Pike as well as Fincher's always reliable direction, Gone Girl is cold, biting, and as horrifying as any quality horror movie. I'm serious. Gone Girl should be thought of as a horror movie. It's about a couple whose marriage disintegrates and how their lives are forever changed as a result of this disintegration. There's no hero or clear protagonist here. Both Nick and Amy commit unforgivable acts, the two bringing the worst out of one another. By the movie's end, it's clear which one of the two is worse, with the other being put into a terrifying and inescapable situation. Nick Dunne tells his wife, "All we do is resent each other and try to control each other. We cause each other pain." Amy turns his head to Nick and replies, "That's marriage."
Gone Girl shouldn't completely dissuade you from getting married, but it should make you think a little more critically about it. Just like life, marriage isn't all peaches and cream. For some, it can be the greatest decision they ever made, bringing a lifetime of happiness and achievements. But for others, it can be an unforgettable nightmare and give people experiences they will never want to sit through again. If relationships and marriage is the way you want to go, be with someone who makes you truly happy. Just remember, never let you and your significant other turn into Nick and Amy Dunne.
Recommend? Yes, but do not watch on a first date
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