Paul Lister’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You two are the most fucked up people I've ever met and I deal with fucked up people for a living."
Let me get one thing straight from the off, Gone Girl is the perfect date movie for unhinged couples because there is no way your relationship is ever going to be as fucked up as the one portrayed in this movie! It starts like a mystery, one that benefits from knowing little going in to the film. Basically a girl is missing, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) the wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), and as the appeal to find her gains some media traction Nick falls under the spotlight, did he kill his wife? I should probably stop there because the film takes us on a playfully demented story that twists, turns and boils our blood such is the nature of what we witness.
One of the things the film will provoke is the taking of sides. I have come across this a number of times already, are you Team Nick or Team Amy? For me watching the film leaves me without any doubts as to who's side I am on but there is an argument to be made that nether of them deserve your sympathy! The film begins with a fragmented, episodic structure that moves the realisation that Amy is missing into a full blown investigation whilst dipping back in time by using Amy's diary to inform us of the couples origin and the slow degradation of the relationship that leads to Amy becoming fearful of Nick. In the present time, the actions Nick and the on going investigation combine with Amy's diary entries to give the impression that Nick in fact must have killed his wife. This is a little bit of genius in the structure and highlights the gleefully playful nature of the film, it strings us a long and constantly pulls the rug from beneath us.
If there is one concept the film explores it is the idea that attracting a mate is all an act in order to create attraction in the desired mate. We all do it, we present our best, picture perfect selves to attract the opposite sex, we keep up this façade until we feel comfortable, then we get lazy, this is why marriages never work out. We end up seeing the side of people we didn't have any intention of being with. But it goes both ways too, the mate also puts on as act. The problem in this case is that Nick has gotten lazy, his façade has dropped, he can no longer pretend to invest in the lie. The film pretty much spirals downwards from there.
The film also highlights the agonising trial by media that we so often see these days. No one gets a fair trial, innocent until proven guilty no longer seems to wash with people. The media will tell you what to think and how to think, it will make your judgements for you! On the flip side though, if you play the game right you can use the media to your advantage, which Nick does, but in a cruel twist it only serves to bring him more trouble. Fincher does a great job with the media slant here, it's one of a number of things that he uses to make your blood boil.
When it comes to making your blood boil though the film has barely shown itself to us. The true twist lies in the clues that Amy has left in her 5th year anniversary treasure hunt, an on going tradition for the Dunne's. The unravelling of this mystery serves as a way of provoking the audience and massively changes our perspective on the story that has unfolded.
By the end you will be shocked, overwhelmed even by the way events transpire, providing you haven't already read the book by Gillian Flynn (who adapted her own novel into a screenplay). It really is ideal David Fincher material, it is dark as hell with one shocking moment of violence, the twisted nature of the film also brings out some devilish black humour which I always welcome in any David Fincher novel. Again the crisp digital photography makes the film very easy on the eye, almost disguising the trashy nature of the material. It almost goes without saying that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deliver a spine tingling score, now mixing some strings into the discordant digital drone that gets under the skin so well.
For me it would wrong to go without mentioning the performances. Ben Affleck may have had a lot of stick regarding his acting ability in the past but here is perfectly cast, an ordinary man under intense public scrutiny. You can fully understand why Fincher choose him for the role, he was mentioned a number of times the very fact that Affleck has suffered such public scrutiny in the past would help in in his performance and he was spot on. It is Rosamund Pike that truly stuns though, her performance as Amy will have you picking your jaw up off the floor on multiple occasions. I don't really want to go into why. Tyler Perry offers unexpectedly decent support as Tanner Bolt, his reputation as a comic actor incapable of making a funny film goes unnoticed as he actually provides some laughs. Neal Patrick Harris ups the creep factor by ten, Carrie Coon is impressive as Nicks sister and Emily Ratajkowski's tits get a good outing. I know I have now sold this film to all men.
So I stand by my date movie comment, it really will split genders down the middle, as I am a man I think you can imagine who I side with - if anyone - but my summation isn't based on the quality of the performances, that would be wrong, but the nature of action that each character takes. If you have a girlfriend/boyfriend or you are on the way to achieving this goal by putting on your best face then take that person to Gone Girl and see where it takes you. If that person doesn't see the twisted humour to it then you might as well drop the act and end it there and then! There is so much more that I want to say, but I don't want to slap a spoiler warning on it because the review is more than likely to go unseen, which Gone Girl shouldn't. You should see it if you haven't, trust me!