As the opener of the 52nd New York Film Festival, director David Fincher’s film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl achieved immediate critical success on the heels of its threatening plot and careful acting. As a film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster novel of the same name, Fincher managed to appeal to the same sense of omniscience that drove the novel to the tops of charts, but also added careful imagery and dramatic appeal to the piece. Rolling Stone magazine described the film as “the date-night movie of the decade for couples who dream of destroying one another” in reference to the film’s dark plot and careful criticism of romance.
The film follows several main story lines that manage to interweave into a delicate and borderline sociopathic sense of intrigue. On the outermost level, the film is a mystery; lofty New York elitist Amy Dunne, portrayed by Rosamund Pike, goes missing following a dispute with husband Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck. The first half hour of the movie traces the footsteps of the police force as they carefully uncover evidence that points towards Nick as the murderer and abuser of his wife. The audience watches as Nick ruthlessly declares his innocence in the face of the police, as investigators pry for any reason at all to arrest him.
Where the movie sheds its murder-mystery cloak and reveals its thriller bones comes through the testimony of the blissfully alive Amy, who recounts all the measures that she took to frame her husband for murder with a painfully catalogued detail. Through the words of Amy, the audience learns not only her calculated coldness towards her husband, but also her admittedly heartbreaking motivation; Nick Dunne cheats on Amy and makes decisions that slowly close her off from the life she has built for herself, and it’s difficult not to empathize on some level with her vengeance.
Ultimately, where the movie sells itself is in Rosamund Pike’s performance as Amy. She carries herself with the sociopathic tendencies of a woman scorned, but also pays careful attention to make herself seem like the type of woman that someone might feasibly fall in love with provided they don’t know of her violent streak. Pike’s character is articulate and borderline ethereal; despite the absolute evil of the character, there’s something that borders on inspiring in the way that Pike is able to portray herself with such careful consideration to every aspect of the persona she is creating. Frankly, the actress looks and carries herself with the rigidity of a woman who could devote her life to ruining someone else’s.
On some intrinsic level, Gone Girl has managed to be one of the most exciting movies to be released in the last five years. The story line is 500 Days of Summer meets American Psycho; these are two characters that wanted nothing more than to be in love, but found themselves devolved into personal weapons of mass destruction. Gone Girl is new, original, and vibrantly different from nearly any other mystery film purely in its depth.