Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gone Girl, review: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher film

GEOFFREY MACNAB  Author Biography   Monday 22 September 2014

David Fincher’s Gone Girl (which opens the New York Film Festival later this week) is an immensely slippery, deceptive affair - and that’s what makes it so pleasurable. It’s a story in which the manipulation of the main characters by one another is matched by that of the audience by the filmmakers. The rug is continually being pulled from under our feet.

Early on, Fincher seems to be offering us a hardboiled thriller about a husband, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), suspected of murdering his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike). Like Cary Grant in Suspicion or Laurence Olivier in Rebecca, he’s a charming man who may have a very dark side. As the film progresses, the Hitchcock touches are combined with wildly melodramatic flourishes and some very funny, very caustic satirical sideswipes at the American media’s prurient obsession with sex, marriage, death and celebrity.

Affleck and Pike excel as the happily (or not so happily) married couple. As Nick, Affleck gets to reprise his likeable, American everyman routine while also portraying someone with a sleazy and possibly murderous side.

English actress Pike, playing an over-achieving Ivy League woman, gives the performance of her screen career so far - one, that more than a decade after her appearance in the James Bond movie Die Another Day (2002), looks set to establish her as an international star. She captures her character’s Martha Stewart-like perfectionism and romantic notions about love as well as her relentless drive. She’s a complicated and contradictory personality. “Complicated is code for bitch,” one character acidly notes of her.


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