It’s the kick-off for Oscar season, and what better way to start the spookiest month of the year than with a terrifyingly creepy film?
Although not without its casual (and minor) gore, Gone Girl’s scare-factor isn’t about flying heads and slashing knives but rather something that’s much more frightening – that of the human condition (Yikes!).
The movie is based on a 2012 novel of the same name and follows the mystery of Nick and Amy Dunne – a couple whose outwardly fairy-tale relationship is disrupted when Amy suddenly vanishes on their 5th wedding anniversary. Over the course the investigation into her disappearance, a deeply hidden Pandora’s box of marital problems leads the formally sympathetic public and authorities to suspect Nick as the central suspect in her unknown fate.
As the story unfolds, we are given (often conflicting) narration from both parties – Amy’s in the form of a written diary read to us through her voice, and visually following Nick as he struggles to handle the stress of his missing wife and media bombardment.
The film is exceptionally put together and paced – it manages to turn on its heels from a mystery to almost a thriller as an abrupt plot shift mid-way through drags us from our original journey to a completely new one. It’s never boring despite being almost 2 1/2 hours long. Gone Girl forces us to choose a side, and it’s unclear right up until the end who’s worth rooting for, if anyone. In fact, it’s unclear who is telling the truth at all. Unreliable protagonists be damned, someone (everyone?) is sketchy here.
The cast was wonderful – Ben Affleck (Nick) is really in his element as a begrudging husband while Rosamund Pike (Amy) is downright haunting in her role. The supporting cast were all a pleasure to watch, although the secondary characters didn’t demand much (with the exception perhaps of Neil Patrick Harris and Kim Dickens), but the film is very much about Amy and Nick’s relationship more than anything.
Without spoiling the heart of the film, I will say this much – Gone Girl had me and many of the watchers on edge at several points. It brings to light a lot of issues that are downright spooky to human beings – raising a privileged child in the limelight, how often we fake who we are to get what we think we need, whether or not you truly know the people you love, and the pressure to be perfect for the world regardless of what goes on behind closed doors. Also, sociopaths are frightening people.
I would definitely recommend this film, but despite being good it’s not easy to watch. It makes you uncomfortable from very early on, as a result of its realness, and it leaves you feeling almost defeated. But it fits right in with the point of the story, however dramatic the plot may be- the question it’s asking is directed at us.
Diversity Thoughts – The movie’s only notable person of color holds a powerful position, but he’s one in an otherwise largely white cast, so it completely fails in diversity. Female rep is solid, though – head detective is a woman, and the other key supporting actresses play complex and diverse roles. They talk to each other in regards to the case.