Murder mysteries are probably easier to solve than spouses who sleep next to you. “What are you thinking? What are you feeling?” These can be potent questions that haunt marriages made in hell.
The screenwriter, of “Gone Girl”, Gillian Flynn, who adapts from her own bestselling novel; clearly enjoys sinking her teeth into the unsolvable and drawing blood. So do you. Every single moment in this 145-minute thriller, keeps you glued, riveted, engrossed and fascinated.
When a married woman goes missing, it can work as a delicious edge of the seat thriller on two levels: a murder mystery as well as a mental trial of a husband and a wife. Is she dead? Did he kill her? The questions playing seesaw move on to deeper questions. Who was right? Who was the wronged one? And ultimately, the best one. Who wins?
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a former freelance writer who runs a bar with his sister in Missourie, finds his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. As the detectives start working on the case, Amy’s point of view is shown through her diary notes starting from the time she met Nick. The screenplay slips neatly into two sides: his and hers. The case soon becomes a media trial, with an entire township in Missouri turning into volunteers helping in the search of missing Amy.
He is seen initially, almost like a victim who was deeply unhappy in his marriage. He thinks she is “complicated”. His twin sister reads that as “bitch”.
She is seen as a gorgeous rich girl who has just met the love of her life. Her diary reveals that they were the best-married couple for the first two years. Soon, it is she who is the victim.
Drops of blood and random evidences throw up suspicions of her murder. The case is in full media glare by now. Amy is declared the real victim and Nick, the cheating husband who could well be the murderer.
A well placed, brilliantly shot and perfectly performed twist playing to the most compelling “cool girl” lines (reason enough to read the novel),takes the film into more than whodunit areas. The tension in the shifting narrative gets tauter, tighter and thicker. The characters get more and more layered. Obvious routes, explore dearlier in pulp novels, are taken, only to lead to better and more wicked places and “War of the Roses” territory.
A marriage bedroom and bathroom, are brilliantly used locations. The famous, Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene, is turned around, like a sharp, freezing spray of cold-blooded water. This remarkable scene is as naked as it can get, both visually and symbolically, about marriages and ugly truths. David Fincher, known for “Seven” and “The Social Network”, is in his element here. Topped with a magical score, slickly shot and edited, the film smoothly captures the dark, the macabre and the unspoken.
The actors, especially Roasamund Hyke, play the perfect, mysterious victims, each. Hyke, deserving of an Oscar, reminds you of Sharon Stone’s aloof sexy presence in Basic Instinct. Affleck at his best keeps it subtle, ambiguous and appeals to the right emotions. Carry Coone as his concerned and loyal, twin sister and Kim Dickens, as the detective who plays fair, make the story believable.
Gone Girl is as delightfully wicked and beautifully packaged Hitchcockian and Sidney Sheldon pulp, as it can get. The more you chew on it, the more delicious are the bloody juices.