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Gone Girl

Updated: Oct 13, 2019

Released 2014. Director: David Fincher

"WHEN I THINK OF MY WIFE, I PICTURE CRACKING her lovely skull, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers.” Alarming words from a husband, any husband. But if you were Nick Dunne, you too would want to know what your wife is thinking. Nick lives in constant fear not knowing what Amy has in mind for him.

Sometime back, Nick’s life starts to unravel when he comes home to find the house trashed, his wife missing. The coffee table is smashed, broken glass on the floor. Blood on the kitchen floor has been cleaned up but stains remain. A crime scene without a body.

Where is Amy? Did Nick kill his wife? The police suspects Nick; the media paints him in a bad light. Nick is not helping himself with his demeanour and clumsy encounters with women. In contrast, Amy is a writer of children’s book and the public loves her. She’s best friend to their neighbour (who Nick doesn’t even know). And then the media circus kicks up another notch when Amy’s diary is found, chronicling her increasing fear that her husband is planning something nasty. Uh-oh.

David Fincher directs mainstream thriller like nobody’s business. The way he lays down a seriously malicious undertone is well planned and timed you’re sucked into this vortex of grisly elegance with no desire to stop before reaching the conclusion. Think of Panic Room, Se7en and Zodiac. Gone Girl is stylish in looks and unapologetic in its depiction of certain characters, especially a very smart woman with a very cold heart.

Fincher’s collaboration with film editor Kirk Baxter (who won two Oscars on Fincher’s movies) gives Gone Girl the rhythmic momentum in its build-up, twists and revelations with supreme confidence right to the end of its 149 minutes. Trent Raznor’s industrial sounding, discordant score adds to frazzle the experience.

An actor not known for his range, Ben Affleck takes the role of Nick and runs with it. His performance is on the bull’s eye as a hapless husband caught in the glare of media. You don’t warm to him or loathe him, or really care much because Nick is that kind of man. Rosamund Pike, on the other hand, seems to have given us two performances. Rather, we have two perceptions of her character. The ‘before and after’ division gives Amy a deliciously wicked dichotomy of victim/aggressor and Rosamund makes the most of both.

This story is about more than getting even. It’s about creating a psychological purgatory with little hope of escaping. The length Amy goes to in order to punish Nick is so elaborate and patient in the planning and flawless in its execution it is a sign of a very angry (and criminally minded) woman.

Men, on the other hand, are blissfully ignorant. Nick is blind to the extent of Amy’s unhappiness and her scheme. Desi (Neil Patrick Harris), who still carries a torch for Amy since high school, is blind to her motives and pays a high price for being the real victim of this twisted and bloody marriage.

Gillian Flynn’s own adaptation of her best-selling novel deconstructing a toxic union is smart, funny and wickedly entertaining. Back in the late 1980s, Glenn Close scared the daylight out of married men as the bunny-boiling fling in Fatal Attraction, a cautionary tale against extra-marital affairs. Now, a chillingly efficient Rosemund Pike takes over in a movie that should be mandatory viewing for anyone about to propose marriage.

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