7 years ago David Fincher released his crowning work in the shape of the unsettling, flawless masterpiece Zodiac. As far as I’m concerned the director will never work above that level - one of the finest thrillers ever created - but with Gone Girl the director has managed to craft a film with such a distinguished, spellbinding atmosphere which leaks throughout its titanic 150 minutes. Fincher’s setting here is sourced from one of the finest novels I’ve read, and honestly there is a not a more precise American director who could’ve handled the complexities of Gillian Flynn’s challenging mystery thriller better than Fincher has.
The novel is a layered work, detailing the very suspicious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a wife (Amy Dunne) whose marriage to her husband (Nick Dunne) has become stale and uncomfortable. Flynn’s novel using detailed entries from the mind of both to describe the intimacies of their relationship and the mental state of each as the trouble escalates throughout. Using a structure such as that in a novel requires talent, but managing to sustain the distinct personality in a adaptation is the main element I feared would derail a film.
Fincher likely recognised the difficulty of this and so the Gillian Flynn composed the screenplay herself, but she works this important element very intelligent. Amy’s entries appear entirely throughout, being utilised to describe the initial suspicion raised by her disappearance and eventually what becomes of the mystery, but it’s the minimal use of narration from Nick’s side which is important. As the narrative initially exists on his side it’s not possible to provide the thoughts of the character through narration without becoming overbearing - or irritating - and so we have to rely on the intensity of Ben Affleck’s work to deliver the emotion required for that exclusion not to feel insubstantial to what Gone Girl is trying to achieve.
In truth, my read of Flynn’s novel just a year ago didn’t suspend my disbelief at the brutality of events we witness and every dramatic sequence provided a unique, masterful course of displaying astonishment. Pike’s performance here as the conniving, deadly Amy is fierce and is undoubtedly her career-defining work thus far. Gone Girl is tense, precise cinema and a worthy adaptation of one of my favourite novels.