Movie Review: Gone Girl

Image Source: Amazon

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Production Companies: Regency Enterprises and Pacific Standard
Director: David Fincher
Producers: Leslie Dixon, Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon and Ceán Chaffin
Scriptwriter: Gillian Flynn
Main Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry
Released: October 2 2014 (UK) and October 3 2014 (US)
Running Time: 149 Minutes
Certificate: 18

The movie Gone Girl was much talked-about when released. Feminism is a strong theme of the main character’s actions, but the discussion was so high that I felt the need to see the film myself. I knew that it was based on a novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn (who also writes the screenplay) and I understood the basic plot, but I still wanted to see it in full. The result: a movie that raises questions of how we judge people based on what they have and have not done, at times confusing and on occasion shocking, but overall very, very compelling.

For the first hour of this 149-minute motion picture, we have two interlinking story branches: one of a man, Nick Dunne (played by Ben Affleck), trying to learn why his wife Amy Elliott-Dunne (Rosamund Pike), has disappeared, with a police investigation looking at what may have happened, and with increasing evidence suggesting that he may have murdered her; and the other acts as an ongoing chronological flashback of the girl’s diary entries from when they first met to their marriage to the troubles they faced as a couple and, ultimately, her disappearance.

At first, the presentation hints at one outcome, but you are inclined to disbelieve it; however, subsequent revelations change one’s perception of the character and lead you to perhaps rethink what the outcome may be. But then, around an hour in, a curveball is thrown, and the whole picture changes, as does the plot, for no longer is the question “What happened?” – it becomes “What will happen?”

Revealing any more details would spoil the movie, but I can say this: you really do begin to wonder who is the hero and the villain, who deserves sympathy and empathy. These are points to ponder which are difficult to come to a conclusion on. Perhaps only those who have been in similar circumstances can relate to their situation and ultimately be able to pass judgement. It is possible that, when weighing it all up, both central characters deserve to be categorised in the same way, but even then is this a positive or a negative?

Either way, what doesn’t require a debate is how thoroughly gripping this film is. Some films take a while to get into their groove but, whilst it does take time to fully get the picture of what is going on here, Gone Girl draws you in almost immediately and holds your attention for the duration. When you think it’s a quiet scene, something happens; when you think the plot is someway from being solved, a swerve is thrown in. Where you think the story is going, it suddenly isn’t. I will say that the ending, whilst not a letdown, was a bit too open-ended for a film which probably won’t have a sequel, but on the whole, the movie is utterly engaging (one particular scene near the end was very shocking, to me anyway), and whilst the long running time may dissuade some from viewing it, I guarantee that you will feel like it is time well spent.

The performances are incredibly powerful. Rosamund plays the role of Amy extremely convincingly, although elaborating on why this is the case will spoil some elements of the plot. Nick Dunne is a multilayered character, who at various points deserves sympathy and disgust. His character is hard to define in terms of it being positive or negative, but it is one that many may be able to at least understand if not totally be on side with, so to speak, and Ben Affleck pulls it off marvellously. Other cast members put in strong performances, but this is a two-person film when it comes to making their roles count.

This is an 18-rated movie due to its very strong language and strong bloody violence (and it gets very bloody at times). I personally felt that the first 75-90 minutes were 15 territory, with scenes in the last hour hoisting it up to an adult rating. I should warn viewers that one thing which isn’t mentioned in the BBFC rating classification is the focus on sexual content which at times is heavy, both verbally and physically. This, mixed with aspects already mentioned, make for a strong if at times uncomfortable viewing experience. In short, you won’t be offended, but the movie may not be to your tastes.

Some criticisms of the film which have arisen concern are how the movie presentation handles elements of the novel, and how this impacts the events which play out and the perception of characters as a result. Certain scenes from the novel did not make it into the movie, but more notable is how, in Flynn’s own words, she “killed feminism” via the way in which events play out. Others had a problem with how the subjects of marriage problems and sexual assault were handled, although as stated, the movie is based on the novel, so any such criticisms reflect the plot of the novel rather than solely that of this film.

In summary, though, Gone Girl is a truly absorbing movie and comes highly recommended. It tells one hell of a story with swerves that at times will have you in disbelief, but are gripping nonetheless. I can’t say too much as it would be a real spoiler, but I can say that I am glad I gave into my desires to see this film. And, if you are in the same boat, so should you; you won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding