Long a fan of the Neo Noir genre, I was keen to see what all the hype was about with new film Gone Girl– a film which promised shock, mystery and drama. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network) and boasting an all star cast, I had high expectations of this flick, which unfortunately failed to deliver.
The basic premise of the film is happy marriage turns murder investigation- at the centre of which is a missing wife (Amy) and a husband (Nick) who is quickly accused of her disappearance. Playing the role of Amy is the sinister eyed and beautiful Rosamund Pike, whose great acting distracts us from an otherwise half- cocked narrative; Nick’s part is played Ben Affleck, who fitting to the role of docile husband, is his usual wooden-limbed and stone-faced self.
The early scenes in the film move quickly- in little over half an hour we are guided through Nick and Amy‘s first encounter, subsequent marriage and later anniversaries. Nick we learn is a New York magazine Movie Writer; Amy, a former writer of quizzes for women’s magazines and one-time childhood celebrity, as the main character in the children’s book series, Amazing Amy.
On the eve of their fifth anniversary, Nick returns home to find his wife has disappeared with little more than a broken glass table and a few traces of blood to go on. Instantly we assume Nick to be responsible- his lackadaisical and uncooperative manner suggest little in the way of fear, love or worry at the disappearance of his wife, while his increasing displays of aggression at the questioning of police make it seem increasingly likely that an altercation may have indeed occurred between husband and wife.
On the surface, Gone Girl pays homage to likes of ‘Frantic’ and ‘Vertigo’ through its offering of a missing wife and accompanying murder investigation. Contrary to its predecessors however, it lets itself down on number of counts.From an intrigue perspective, Amy’s disappearance resolves itself too quickly- just as the film starts to gather impetus through a treasure hunt style investigation, we are told of her whereabouts and the motive behind her disappearance. This comes at roughly the hour mark and leaves little in the way of later red herrings to engage the detective mind. The film is then told in reverse chronology as we learn of the incidents leading up to and triggering her vanishing. These include financial troubles and domestic violence- the latter of which Nick is implicated in from Amy’s retelling of the events. Perhaps the only other twist to come is through Amy’s re-acquaintance with ex-private school boyfriend and stalker, Desi, for it’s at this point that the film takes a grossly absurdist turn which I don’t think any of us see coming, nor want to arrive. In terms of cinematography, the film lacks the sufficient camerawork, lighting and score necessary to carry its story. Try as it will to emulate a Hitchcockesque classic it just doesn’t carry the same suspense nor artistic direction.
Whether or not the film lives up to the book is open to interpretation (I for one have not read it) but if you ask me, Fincher would have done better to work the route of the murder investigation into the books of Amy’s childhood- playing out her disappearance as a revenge plot against her parents in which pictures and words of Amy Amazing become offer cryptic clues into the real Amy’s whereabouts.