This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Sean Cordy’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"Gone Girl" of course refers to the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike). But David Fincher and Gillian Flynn make it much deeper and complex than that. It becomes an examination of appearances and the complex psychology that lies within. Every time a question is answered, a new, deeper ponder begins. Was Amy always gone?
Of course, Amy was present in the world on physical bases. She's documented as a Harvard graduated, and is the inspiration of a beloved book series, "Amazing Amy". But from the standpoint of being present in spirit and mind (at least, how we perceive normality), she's not "there" for Nick (Ben Affleck). Fincher begins to tear apart the fabric of their relationship, revealing the facade of ideals and the American dream.
The "American Dream", it's been indicted in many movies. But I'm not sure it's ever been turned on its side like it is here. What is the American dream from Gone Girl's case? It consists of a beautiful starlet and a handsome man, great wealth and proprietorship, the prospect of a child, and a secure relationship that started out as a fairy tale. It's what we've become accustomed to seeing in movies and media - one of Fincher's greatest points.
We learn more about Amy's disappearance through a variety of network TV shows; seeing Nick picked apart from every angle for his possible affiliation in her disappearance on their anniversary. The newscasters sympathize with Amy, and see Nick as the monster - providing a commentary on how sexist media has become. News is no longer about "why", but "who" - they only report on one side of the story. News crews today just run with the wind, wherever the story takes them and beat it into the ground today. That's what feeds people's perception, and its often ill-advised.
That's the main focus of the film, perception. We only see what people allow us to see. No one comes out to show hidden agendas. That's all behind closed doors. In the case of Gone Girl, any door is more likened to a labyrinth.
Nobody would think that anything was wrong with Nick and Amy's marriage. But as Fincher turns each page of Amy's diary, we begin to see that what people do outside of the home is just surface material. It's cliche, but it's to the point of "don't judge a book by its cover".
As we read each page, we begin to see what Nick might be capable of. But that's only the act that has been set up by the mastermind. Near the beginning of the film, we see Nick walking in to The Bar with a game, "Mastermind". It's quite blatant, and we're led to believe that he's a mastermind capable of committing his wife's murder. But that's just a sleight of hand trick from Fincher; the first of many ensuing turns.
Fincher sets us at ease with each scene. It's been well reported that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score was inspired by spa music, and that's certainly one of the key elements of the film. There's security provided by their eclectic score over Jeff Cronenweth's immaculate cold and placid cinematography. But when each scene unfolds, it film's texture unfolds in almost hilarious fashion.
There should be no comfort in what we're seeing, there's no hand holding here. It provides the feeling of what we perceive a first-class marriage to be, and set against their story of great depravity, is utterly disturbing. But it's a Fincher film, that's to be expected. Every scene is also heightened by the sound design, using ambient noise to create a more real atmosphere in situations none of the audience could fathom by themselves.
But I think what needs to be praised the most is how well the casting turned out. Thank you, Mr. Fincher for going against. I've never cared for Affleck as an actor, and I thought Fincher casting him based his smile was just a little shallow, and wouldn't be able to work with the role. But it's one of the best performances of the year. He's completely believable as Nick, make the audience both sympathize and dread him. The same goes for Pike, but even more so.
The audience (at least me) falls into the convoluted trap she created, feeling sorry for her, but then she turns the 180 with ease - though many thanks should be given to the fluidity of the editing and screenplay. She provides the false beauty that is needed for the role - a pretty face and body that society has become society has become associated as innocent and trustful. But underneath appearances, a real monster is formed and every male in the audience was protecting their manhood once she's revealed. I haven't seen a performance make me as insecure as hers.
The supporting cast owns their roles as well. Neil Patrick Harris does an impeccable job as the muse of Amy, and Tyler Perry really should consider doing more dramatic roles. He knows how to role with the punches, and add flare to his role as Nick's lawyer. The list goes on - an all around magnificent ensemble.
There's so much to analyze here, and I'm afraid I've only seen the surface. But I think that's what Fincher wants to us feel. However, I did pick up on one slight element of irony.
When Nick's watching his interview on TV, next to it is a copy of Groundhog Day. It's a clever way of emphasizing how this whole situation of finding Amy and the continuation of their marriage is just going to be a mundane repetition; protecting public perception from what truly lies within their marriage. All that might keep them together is a child - so we imagine.
That's where Fincher's devilish side kicks in with this parable of societal perception and relationship. The whole film we see how there's more than two sides to every story. But then he ends it where it all began. We can only assume what's going to come next. Will he really kill her and escape his Groundhog Day syndrome, or will he continue to live in perpetual hell to create an image of a healthy relationship under the one step ahead "Amazing Amy"?
Many films have great effect on me as a whole, but in Gone Girl's case, the sum is more than the pieces of the whole and I can't be more pleased by that.