Gone Girl

WRITTEN BY: Gillian Flynn
DIRECTED BY: David Fincher
STARRING: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry
RATING: 4.5 stars

How well can you ever really know your spouse? How much of our lives is a facade? Those are the questions raised in Gone Girl, which cleverly explores how we portray ourselves and aspects of our personality to our friends and family. It is a thought-provoking, thrilling and suspenseful tale. In less capable hands, Gone Girl could have become a tacky Desperate Housewives type of black comedy, but revered director David Fincher has executed Gillian Flynn's narrative very well, while adding his own signature style. Flynn also adapted her own novel to the screenplay so any omissions or changes in the plot of the film, including the tweaked ending, would presumably have had her backing. Other aspects of the story are only briefly touched on in the film, but explored more thoroughly in the book, providing a greater insight into these complex characters. Nonetheless, the film holds strongly on its own as a gripping and beautifully filmed piece of cinema. I highly recommend both the book and the film.

When Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) goes missing on her wedding anniversary and is feared murdered, her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) becomes the prime suspect. He does not seem to behave the way a distraught husband might in front of the media or detectives. In a series of flashbacks, we learn more about this loving couple and how their relationship became dangerously derailed, as the mystery surrounding Amy's disappearance unfolds.

Affleck suits the role perfectly. While he has movie star good looks, it is also believable that he could be that seemingly laid back guy-next-door and he has that creepy smile down pat. Pike is equally impressive in what is a challenging role as the complex seductress. It is fascinating how much you can sympathise and perhaps even empathise to some degree with Nick and Amy despite both of them being heavily flawed. Interestingly, despite the growing animosity between them, they know each other better than anyone else and there is a strange comfort in that even as the bizarreness of the story becomes further entangled. Affleck and Pike have fantastic chemistry.

The supporting cast includes Neil Patrick Harris as a suave yet creepy man obsessed with Amy, Carrie Coon as Nick's supportive but suspicious twin sister, Kim Dickens as the smart detective trying to piece together the puzzle of Amy's disappearance and Tyler Perry as Nick's cocky lawyer. All of the performances are convincing, which is vital to making the thriller work.

It may only be October, but I think Gone Girl is one of the best films of 2014.