Having sold over 2 million copies, it is fair to say the adaptation of the book ‘Gone Girl’ was going to come with a fair bit of anticipation. Similar to Fincher’s previous film, ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’, there was plenty of pressure coming from fans of a much beloved book to get this story right. As stylish and brilliantly made as ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ was, it lacked the grit that the story, and the original Swedish adaptation, had that made it so good. There was a sense that Fincher didn’t feel truly passionate about the project, resulting in a stunningly made, if somewhat hollow film. In many ways, ‘Gone Girl’ is similar, with it failing to scale the heights of Fincher’s early masterpieces ‘Fight Club’, ‘Se7en’ or ‘Zodiac’. However, it seems Fincher has had more fun making this film, resulting in it being a much more satisfying, and overall first class thriller.
‘Gone Girl’ tells the story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), an aloof, bulky man with a temper who has to deal with gossip and accusations when his wife (Rosamund Pike) goes missing. It’s an apt synopsis, but one that fails to truly grasp the complexity of this twisty-turny plot, which will leave you second guessing constantly in typical whodunit style. Its dark tone, wholly dislikeable characters and long running time make it possibly off-putting, however it should be noted the running time flies by, and it is made with such directorial bravado and with such humour that it is a truly enjoyable experience. This isn’t a highly intelligent or intellectual film, it is a fun, schlocky thriller, but it very much knows this, and never tries to be anything more. Fincher fills the second half of the film with plenty of humour, seemingly aware of the slight silliness of all the twists and turns. It’s a welcome relief amidst what is a typically dark film, including one of the most pulsating and gruesome death scenes of the year. This, alongside the superb performances across the cast, from the creepily comedic Neil Patrick-Harris, to Ben Affleck’s difficult to read central character, to Rosamund Pike in a truly superb performance which it could be argued deserves some awards recognition, make it a film worth watching.
It’s true however that this film is not going to be remembered as quintessential Fincher. There are moments of great direction, and the story does take some interesting inroads, but it never reaches the operatic brilliance of ‘Se7en’, and will never capture a part of a generations psyche in the same way ‘Fight Club’ did. It also feels as if Fincher has lost some of the grit he showed in his earlier years. While his films felt passionate and gritty, they now feel slightly too polished and cold. However, like ‘The Game’, it is a fantastically entertaining thriller, twisting and turning, revelling in its dark characters and constant racked up tension. As is always the case with Fincher, if you like your films light and fluffy, then its best to stay away. And if you’re expecting another Fincher masterpiece, then it may be best to lower your expectations. However if you come to this expecting nothing more than a dark, schlocky, fiendishly enjoyably thriller, then you will find possibly the best thriller of the year.