Gone Girl

Gone Girl

From their earliest screwball inception, comedies of remarriage were also comedies of remediation, stories of couples who mediated their marriage by way of the mass media itself, searching through its most frenetic outlets for a new way of being close to each other. Something similar happens in Gone Girl, an adaptation of the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn, although arguably on a much more ambitious scale. The less said about the plot the better, except that it opens with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) discovering that his wife Amy Elliott (Rosamund Pike) is missing, and that he may be the prime suspect. As the investigation proceeds and publicity builds, Nick finds himself at the epicentre of a twenty-four hour news cycle, a massive digital media event that quickly spirals out beyond his home town of North Carthage, Missouri, interpolating and interrogating all his perceptions of Amy in the process. A great deal of the film’s pleasure comes from the ambiguity about who, exactly, is crafting this media event, and to what extent and purpose, partly because Flynn’s screenplay so scrupulously preserves the digital screwball of her novel, couching each character in a kind of snap-chat snappiness that’s more interested in timeliness than speed, and oppressing Nick with a series of ominously up-to-the-minute utterances that don't unfold in real time so much as generate their own bewildering, alarming hyperreal time. Among other things, that frees up David Fincher to indulge in some of his most ambient, freeform datascapes to date, gesturing towards a mystery that exceeds any of the intricate narrative loops that Flynn deals with so efficiently – namely, the mystery of why on earth this couple ever got together and why, having got together, they ever decided to stay together. At least, that’s something Nick seems to ask himself as he sinks further and further into DP Jeff Cronenweth's digital miasma, a dim and dusky world in which natural light suddenly seems to have become tidal rather than diurnal, endlessly receding without ever exhausting itself enough to plunge us into total darkness, and exposing a strange new digital streambed in its wake, a streambed that Nick can only skulk, scramble and stumble across to the best of his ability. For all that this media event multiplies in platforms and dimensions, then, the Midwestern Mississippi town that generates it just seems to get flatter and flatter, more and more liquid, drowning everything in a digital swamp murk that occasionally makes it feel much further South than it actually is. With barely enough time to put his face on for each new camera, and barely enough time to take it off again, Affleck’s dopey, himbo vibe has never worked better, never given less away - for years, we’ve pretended his romantic charisma was sustainable, but by finally giving up on that Gone Girl gives him his best performance to date. And with Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris among the supporting cast, it feels as if heterosustainability is just what Fincher and Flynn are satirising, offering up one digital fantasy of the good life after another, while daring you, in the slyest, wryest way, to take them seriously.

www.afilmcanon.com/films/2014/10/5/fincher-gone-girl-2014.html

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