David Fincher is a clever director, who managed to show us one of the most dysfunctional marriages in modern cinema by disguising it as a thriller. Yes, it is the 2014 Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike-starrer that I speak of. Based on the book of the same name by Gillian Flynn, upon its release, Gone Girl was not only a smashing hit at the box office that minted a whopping $369 million of its modest budget of $61 million budget, it was loved by critics too. Pike, in particular, was showered with plaudits for her electrifying performance as the sociopath, troubled wife Amy Dunne. She was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award as well as a BAFTA.
For the uninitiated, the plot primarily dealt with the seemingly normal relationship of a couple, Nick Dunne (a writing teacher played ably by Ben Affleck), and his wife, the rich and sophisticated Amy Dunne (a creepy, hair-raising act pulled off by Rosamund Pike). Nothing seems wrong or off about the pair until one day, Amy suddenly disappears, leaving an exhausted, confused but aloof Nick. First, everyone thinks he is the victim, but as things unravel, the audience gets to know about the manipulative and vicious aspect of Affleck’s character.
At the beginning, I mentioned that Fincher is a smart filmmaker. And here’s why — Gone Girl is of course a thriller in the traditional sense of the term. It starts off as a regular whodunnit, and then, it quickly takes form to emerge as something more than that. A deeper look into the psyche of two broken, troubled people who are bound to each other by the promise of matrimony. Amy’s constant need to take revenge, her conflicted and toxic love for her partner was a giant red flag for intensive mental health therapy.
She not only seems to despise herself, but everyone who chooses to see only the good in her, including her parents (although she never harms them in a tangible fashion, according to the film). Nick, meanwhile, suffers from a terrible sense of low self-esteem who does not have it in him to leave Amy, despite his obvious negligence towards her and their marriage. A lack of spine, as they say. Both are imperfect, and of course if one wants to look at the portrayal ‘realistically,’ it will come of as an exaggeration of a marital discord, as simple as two people unsuited for each other. Perhaps unsuited for anyone until they regain some of their sense of self back through much-needed therapy.
Hollywood Rewind: Starship Troopers | Bridget Jones’s Diary | Almost Famous | Inglourious Basterds | Beginners | Girl With a Pearl Earring | Juno | Nightcrawler | Little Miss Sunshine | Moana | The Sound of Music | Benny and Joon | Crimson Peak | The Holiday | My Blueberry Nights | The Help | Mission Impossible | Chef | Revolutionary Road | I’m Not There | Donnie Brasco | Sicario | Edge of Tomorrow | Spy Kids | 1998’s Godzilla | The Others | Phone Booth | Wild | Scream | The Godfather Part II | One Fine Day | True Romance | Little Women | Face-off | Pulp Fiction | Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon | The Age of Innocence | Mean Girls | Die Hard | Never Been Kissed | Citizen Kane | Kill Bill Volume I | Terminator 2 Judgment Day | Titanic | Heat | Home Alone | Jerry Maguire | Brief Encounter | The Truman Show | The Deer Hunter | The Shining | Clueless | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | Blue Velvet | Taxi Driver | The Lord of the Rings I | Zero Dark Thirty | The Godfather | Say Anything | Warm Bodies | Bright Star | Malcolm X | Stardust | Red Eye | Notting Hill | Fargo | The Virgin Suicides | The Breakfast Club | Enchanted | Walk the Line | Blood Diamond | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Mortal Kombat | Bridges of Madison County | Edward Scissorhands | Breakfast at Tiffany’s | She’s Gotta Have It | Ever After | The Devil Wears Prada | The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolat | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | Tangled | Meet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles
Rosamund Pike was stellar as Amy. You cannot help but believe her when she shows you her sweet, elegant side at the beginning, and then take her words at face value when she recounts some horrific events via her diary. And then, her true self steps out of the shadows and you are left both sad and shocked for her. The mannerisms, the voice modulation as she goes through different phases of her life in front of us — sober, sweet, scared and obnoxious — was incredible.
And that end, that polarising end, is perhaps the most intriguing part of the film. Why go back to that relationship that gave both its partners nothing but misery? It is an upsetting, suffocating conclusion to a suffocating relationship. But in a good way, because any movie that leaves with you questions about human condition and psyche is worth the time.
You can watch Gone Girl on Netflix.