An updated Fatal Attraction for the modern man. Traditionally, on a fifth wedding anniversary one expects a gift made of wood. Instead, a media frenzy following the mind-boggling disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) propels Gone Girl into a heightened cinematic experience when her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) is cast under suspicion of murder. But, as the truth unravels under the microscopic, penetrating glare of the pubic eye, the skeletons in the couple's suburban closet are revealed.
David Fincher's tenth film Gone Girl is another mystery that proves the director is always thinking outside of the box. Beginning his career producing music videos for artists such as Aerosmith and Madonna, his first feature saw Sigourney Weaver with a shaved head, surrounded by foul-mouthed convicts in the claustrophobic Alien 3 (1992). Fincher has continued to beguile audiences with thrilling hits such as Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007) and the first remake from the Swedish 'Nordic Noir' trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
Gone Girl has been tipped as David Fincher's Oscar-worthy film for 2015, after missing out on Best Picture and Best Director at the 83rd Academy Awards for The Social Network (2010). However, the director proclaimed in an interview with The Independent: "When I got involved with this, it had maybe sold a million books, something like that. It hadn't sold six million books. I don't go phenomenon-hunting." The author of the novel, Gillian Flynn, also acted as screenwriter for the movie adaptation and made changes to the story for its big screen translation but the overall story has stayed similar to the book. That graphic scene with Amy and Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) in bed when she plots her escape is not coital or as bloody. She is pregnant with Nick's child, not the late Desi's. The book and the film have also received feminist backlash for its portrayal of women and how Pike's character uses her sexuality to get what she wants.
Rosamund Pike was chosen over actresses such as Olivia Wilde and Reese Witherspoon (co-producer of the film) due to her relative anonymity in Hollywood. Her cold, standoffish demeanour works well with her character's sociopathic nature. Writer Flynn spoke with Variety to praise Pike's suitability for the wife from hell: “Amy has many sides to her, and Rosamund was able to really show one emotion to the next... It’s a pretty thrilling and frightening talent.” Neil Patrick Harris may seem miscast as Amy's unhinged past lover but he manages to play an off-beat, weak and easily manipulated character well. Nick's sharp-tongued twin sister Margot (Carrie Coon from TV's The Leftovers) and no nonsense Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) provide notable satirical supporting roles. As are the caricature cable TV hosts Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle) and Sharon Schieber (Sela Ward) whose aims are to vilify Nick and naturally boost their show's ratings.
The laugh-out-loud, incredulous moments are summed up by Fincher's words anchoring Gone Girl's genre: "It's a relay. It starts as a mystery and you hand off the baton and it becomes an absurdist thriller, and then you hand off the baton and eventually it becomes a satire." The media satirisation, the elaborate game of revenge Amy concocts in her absence, and her unprecedented return to trap Nick in a marital nightmare she controls does teeter on the edge of spoof territory. And having not read the book beforehand, the plot twists were unpredictable; reinforcing the absurdity. The darkly laced humour of Gone Girl is also similar to that which can be found in the charming villainy of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in Fincher's US version of the Netflix political satire House of Cards. Gone Girl is definitely an unbelievable 149 minutes you'll be talking about with a morbid fascination.