‘Gone Girl’: An In-depth Review

David Fincher's latest thriller has been receiving hot debate on the basis of its gender politics, but is that really the film's main message?
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Editor's Review

8.5 Stars out of 10

By this point, I’m going to assume that everyone has gone out and seen David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling thriller, and for those of you who haven’t – well, no… you really should have seen it by now. Nonetheless, I’ll try steer from giving away spoilers from here. To put it simply, the film is a very well-done adaptation of a quite frankly, ludicrously-plotted novel, and rests perfectly among Fincher’s impressive résume of gritty, cynically toned thrillers (Fight Club, Se7en, Dragon Tattoo, even The Social Network to a degree), and it is probably his most thematically realized work to date. Actually scratch that, Fight Club will always rank the top of this reviewer’s list… but Gone Girl comes pretty close.

The basic premise for Fincher’s latest can be summed up in the following: on the fifth anniversary of his marriage, Nick Dunne (played by a perfectly casted Affleck, for once) discovers that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) has suddenly disappeared. Speculation begins, police gets involved, the media swarms in and all the fingers point at the potential murderer/sociopath husband. As the witch-hunt ensues, we can immediately see Fincher’s critique on media (comparisons to The Social Network may be made here) and the eerily effective ways it manages to shape our perceptions and shift our emotions. But this is a small critique in a web of intriguing themes.

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On a fundamental level, Gone Girl revolves around marriage – and how god-damn terrifying it is. In the past few weeks there has been a ridiculous number of articles labeling the film as either feminist, misogynist, misandrist or all of the above. But really, without giving away any  spoilers, what Fincher is trying to communicate here is how marriage forces change in people. For better or worse, couples influence each other and transform themselves believing that to be essential for the relationship. And eventually – the people they become are not the ones who exchanged vows in the first place. In Gone Girl, we see the absolute worst-case scenario of course – as things play out in dramatic, manipulative and bloody fashion.

How well do you really know your significant other?

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Though the author herself took over the screenwriting duties for the film ever so brilliantly, Fincher deserves a lot of credit for executing the material with his signature precision and style. Every scene is infused with unease (punctuated by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ incredible score), and the pacing of the film is very effective in handling the novel’s major twists and parallel storylines. My only gripe with the film lies in its perspective – a lot more screen time is devoted to Nick’s inner thoughts rather than Amy’s, but I attribute this issue more to the difficulty of literary-film adaptations. All things considered. Gone Girl was a ludicrously smart novel, and it remains just as ludicrous yet all the more thrilling visually, thematically and emotionally on screen.

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