David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling book is an undoubted triumph; a brutal, expertly judged suspense thriller and a flawless character study.
Rosamund Pike plays the Gone Girl, Amy Dunne – a cool, ‘complicated’ former Yale graduate, now Missouri housewife, and Ben Affleck her husband Nick Dunne.
The discovery and investigation into her disappearance is interspersed with Amy’s diary entries, and flashbacks into the early days of their marriage and its slow disintegration.
These snippets and clues, along with the media investigation into her disappearance, unfurl with the increasing awareness of Nick and Amy’s unreliability as narrators, thereby creating the chilling uncertainty and ambiguity at the heart of the film.
Fincher really excels himself here, harnessing all his atmospheric darkness and acerbic humour into this exploration of the twisted layers of a toxic marriage with razor sharp precision.
Not once does he descend to the melodrama or clunky plot revelations possible with such potentially lurid source material, but instead maintains an incredible subtlety throughout, aided by Pike and Affleck’s superbly composed, enigmatic performances.
The domestic scenes have all the weight, tension and unease of an Edward Hopper painting, every small inconsequential detail, be it their ginger cat or a robotic dog toy, adding to the smooth surveillance of suburbia.
This unfurling disquiet breaks intermittently into flashes of intense brutal violence and Hitchcockian twists and turns.
Gone Girl extends beyond Amy and Nick to a wider comment upon the performative nature of the American media and justice system, as Nick is bullied into talk shows, and trained to perform the role of a grieving husband, to avoid the Missouri death penalty.
A particularly brilliant scene involves his lawyer pelting him with gummy bears whenever he looks too ‘smug’ before an interview.
Flashes of absurdity like these contrast with a deep prevalent fear and paranoia inherent within Amy and Nick’s marriage and everywhere else in this cold, sleek, terrifying portrait of America – as flawed and undecipherable as Amy Dunne herself.