Directed by David Fincher
Written by Gillian Flynn
Starring Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.
When I walked out of the theatre tonight, I just had to tweet something that summed up my feelings about the film I had just seen and been totally riveted by. It went along the lines of “if my ex-wife ever goes missing, I’m properly screwed.”
Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own work, purely from a scripting perspective, is as good as anything you will see this year. Only the likes of Enemy and Locke come even close to the skills employed using the written word here. Those of you that have read the book and are waiting, with baited breath, to see if Fincher has made a real hash of what may well be one of your most cherished reads, can rest easy. This is indeed a fantastic adaptation of the original work.
On July 5th, Nick Dunne (Affleck) leaves home as normal, off to grab a coffee, read the paper and enjoy some alone time. He goes to ‘The Bar’ (very meta, great) to see his sister, have a couple of shots and shoot the breeze about how rough his life is and how his wife doesn’t understand him (boo hoo).
On returning home, he finds an upturned, smashed coffee table and no wife to be seen. Amy (Pike) has disappeared after what seemed like a struggle. There is enough evidence here even for an uninitiated detective like him, a magazine columnist, to work out that something is afoot. And so begins the unstoppable roller-coaster that is a new beginning in Nick’s life, as even as the police take a first look around his house, something begins to look a little fishy. Did Nick kill his wife?
Well, all of the mounting evidence suggests that he did. Amy hails from wealthy parents, authors of ‘The Amazing Amy’ novels, from which they have made their fortune, using their beautiful, intelligent daughter as inspiration. She has a trust fund, owns the house they live in and that bar he runs with his sister Margo (Carrie Coon, seen recently in The Leftovers). She has a prenuptial agreement and an impressive life insurance policy. Nick? Well, he has nothing apart from a very valuable wife and only his sister for solace. No surprise then that when you look at all the facts, there is every reason to suspect he is responsible for his wife’s disappearance.
However, he remains resolute, despite a growing feeling in the town in which they live and further afield, in newspapers and on television, that he is guilty, despite there being no evidence or a body to substantiate the belief. As an example of the press’ ability to crucify someone with nothing more than public opinion for the sole purpose of ratings, this is frighteningly realistic and a marker of how far we have sunk as a society.
Refined and meticulous are superlatives that are well deserved here. Flynn’s script is razor sharp, cunning and full to the brim with both menace and even the odd dose of comedy. On several occasions, the audience audibly laughed out loud. It’s complicated enough to test the grey matter and never lets the viewer settle for too long, before leaping to another direction entirely, both unexpected but completely sensible and jaw-droppingly obvious once you see it.
Finchers’ direction is outstanding. This may well be his best work since Seven. His ability to unfold domestic ruination, layer by layer, is mesmerising to sit through and impossible to tear yourself away from. Rosamund Pike’s performance here is completely compelling and utterly believable and it is she that is the out and out star of this picture. If she doesn’t feature in awards ceremonies everywhere at the start of next year, then something is seriously wrong with everything you know about movies.
Affleck too, as if buoyed by the incomparable Pike, turns in one of his best performances of recent years also as a man in an impossible position who really doesn’t know what he wants or what to believe for large parts of the film, much like the police officers that want to charge him for what he has allegedly done.
Tense and mysterious with drama, passion and suspense in spades, I simply can’t recommend this highly enough. This is the big league, ladies and gentlemen. Fincher and company have really raised the bar for everyone else to reach this year. Should we have expected anything less?
Five big, fat stars.