Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★★★

This is arguably the pulpiest of all of Fincher’s films; perhaps only outdone for sheer absurdity of conceit by his early career thriller, The Game. The farfetched nature of the plot is absolutely asking to not be taken seriously, yet the messages that underpin the narrative demand the opposite. This is satire in every sense of the word—an elaborate and melodramatic piece of storytelling that doubles as a self-aware commentary on the expectations of modern marriage; all the while very earnestly chipping away at the glossy veneer that can mask the underlying frictions and dishonesty in a toxic relationship.

The impact of this is somewhat lessened once you know all of the plot’s twists and turns, but even so, it remains an outrageously entertaining experience. Everything really hinges on how perfectly cast Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are in the lead roles of Nick and Amy Dunne—Affleck, the ideal candidate to play the sleazy, neglectful husband, who hides behind a wafer-thin facade of charm and confidence, but gets tripped up by his two-faced, self-centred smugness; and Pike, the very embodiment of pent-up rage and frustration, fed-up with having to conform to her husband’s shallow image of what the “model wife” should be. She is sensational in this—playing her duplicitous, psychotic role to icy, inscrutable perfection.

This remains such an intriguing film because it continues to stir up critical debate about whether Amy’s arc can be held as a shining example of feminist empowerment, or whether it is merely a rampant display of lunacy that undermines all of the character’s motivations. What I like the most about it is that Fincher and author turned screenwriter Gillian Flynn don’t attempt to really answer these questions—they just throw it all into the mix and ask the audience to pick it apart. The film also doesn’t really expect us to root for either party; they are each despicable and manipulative in their own twisted ways, and any sympathy they may be due is quickly diminished by their own deluded, retaliatory actions. You could say the two of them were made for each other.

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