9 October 2014

Gone Girl may be one of the best films of 2014

Gone Girl is a film that primarily revolves around the idea of perspective, whether that be a husbands perspective of his marriage, a wife's changing perspective of her husband, the perspective of the police in a missing persons investigation or the perspective of the media as the investigation develops. It follows the disappearance of Amy Dunne from the small town where she lives and the growing media circus surrounding her husband, Nick Dunne, told from both Nick's point of view during the investigation and Amy's point of view in flashbacks taken from her diary, two narrations that offer very different perspectives of the same marriage.

To say any more about the plot could ruin it - this is a film that deserves to be seen with as little previous knowledge of possible, something that shouldn't be too difficult (if you haven't read the book on which it is based) thanks to the restrained advertising campaign, which is in itself a miracle in the age of the spoiler trailer. But believe me when I say that Gone Girl contains one of the most interesting, captivating stories I've ever seen in a film, drawing you in from the start and consistently subverting expectations and developing in unpredictable ways, never letting go of the audience. It's a fantastically paced movie that doesn't contain a single dull moment, an impressive feat when you consider a running time of just under two and a half hours.

It's a film of 2 distinct parts, splitting the running time fairly equally between a mystery and a thriller, separated by a plot twist that is only obvious in retrospect. The film keeps a consistent tone throughout, a typically "David Fincher" grim reality that is used to mask the more unbelievable aspects of the story while also allowing the dark humour embedded in the film to get through. Large parts of Gone Girl are pure satire, particularly the parts involving the medias growing interest in the case and how easily they decide that "Nick did it" based on pure speculation. It's a mocking look at the witch-hunt mentality that the media can inspire, with one scene in particular having a sympathetic, supporting crowd turning into an angry mob in seconds based on a few sentences from one person.

Originally presented as the archetypal couple, both Nick and Amy Dunne are fully realised, three-dimensional characters by the end of the film, each of them conforming to and then subverting audience expectations throughout. The film slowly peels away the layers of deception that covers their marriage as it progresses, each new reveal taking the story in a new direction while also changing the audiences perception of the plot and the characters involved. I can only assume that the casting of Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike was deliberate here - both actors that have struggled with typecasting in the past, being used to portray characters that are constantly battling the idea that they are being defined by their relationship despite every effort to avoid that.

Both of the leads play their characters excellently, with Rosamund Pike in particular giving what may well end up being the defining performance of her career. Both Nick and Amy are characters that the wrong actor or the wrong director could have easily mishandled, but there is a deft touch throughout that keeps things on track. If people are still doubtful of Affleck's acting abilities after his mid-Nougties losing streak, Gone Girl is surely the film to change minds if Argo didn't already. There is something to be said for the supporting cast as well, with a lot of strange casting decisions (including Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick-Harris) really paying off.

Gone Girl has quickly become one of my favourite films released this year, defying expectations throughout and creating a film that isn't afraid to make an audience feel uncomfortable. Not everyone will like Gone Girl, and there is already controversy about if the film is misogynistic or not (I don't think it is), but it's tense, enthralling and at times darkly funny, and it has one of the most interesting, memorable and down right loathsome antagonists of recent years. Controversial or not, this is a film that deserves to be seen, and I cannot recommend it enough.

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