GONE GIRL: ANATOMY OF A MARRIAGE

This is a review of the 2014 film which shocked me and demystified dynamics of urbanity and marriage, the ropes of which are too complex to unravel or even unknot.

CAST: ROSAMUND PIKE, BEN AFFLECK, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, CARRIE COON, TYLER PERRY, KIM DICKENS, PATRICK FUGIT, MISSY PYLE, CASEY WILSON, EMILY RATAJKOWSKI .

DIRECTION : DAVID FINCHER.

****

I put a tantalising question before you. What, in your opinion, is a marriage? An ideal compromise leased out for a lifetime? An inscrutable enigma open to so many interpretations beyond the ‘I dos’ and vows enunciated? Or is it a state of mind?

In Gone Girl, the institution of holy matrimony is a facade behind which pestering evils crawl out of the sheets shared by two people. If you take Gillian Flynn’s bestseller and conflate it with director David Fincher ‘s handling of this domestic drama, it could well be a nightmare for an eternity. A statutory warning though goes out for those going in for a thrilling ride. Your viewing pleasure, provided you haven’t read the book, could go either way- either consumption of its sadistic fare or a shocking unravelling of modern day sin and crime that will probably have your head spinning.

Fincher’s R rated chops, scattered through its two hour runtime, are disturbingly ominous. That said, Gone Girl’s footnote of being a psycho sexual thriller in which a missing person account isn’t what it seems, is replete with a teasing inversion in terms of pronouncement of victimhood and regarding the man- woman equation. Words like provocative, controversial reserve candidacy here when the script unfolds in full force. Nevertheless, Fincher keeps a tab on converting even the most dumbfounded cynics of his plot into interested parties who end up being affected by it in pretty unusual ways. Atleast, I did.

Oscar winner Ben Affleck puts his usually criticised recessive expressions to good use here as a downsized writer from New York back in Missouri after tying the knot to another similarly affected wunderkind, played by Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike. Initial scenes, meant strictly for a back and forth exposition, vacillate between wordy exchanges on the part of Nick and his twin sister Margo(played perfectly by Carrie Coon) about his marriage and brief interludes that catch the drift of him and Amy’s primal instincts and tense emotions. This extends to the snap in their dialogues and their penchant for sexual unconventionality. This ploy is then offset by murmurs of discontent and broiling concerns in their married life of five years. I will not call them great introductory portions but you’d be foolish to call it mediocre just on this basis. The screenplay honours are efficiently tackled by Flynn herself and ten minutes in, we have our hands full with different currents.

The real storm rages when Nick returns home on the morning of the couple’s fifth marriage anniversary and finds that Amy has mysteriously disappeared. Signs of this event do not warrant validation for him. His townsfolk think otherwise, as they connect dots around his surprisingly calm behavioural patterns and ring alarm bells, eventually designating him as Amy’s killer who has a dark secret lurking somewhere. In no time, he is made a scapegoat at the hands of a morally retarded media blitz of paparazziesque proportions as the town follows his trail and colour him as a bonafide wife persecutor. Their ramblings ensure the Dunne’s private dirty laundry becomes public property.

All this while, Nick upholds his innocence to no avail. An unsettling yet realistic toss of the coin ensues as Tyler Perry, entertainment world’s talent scout of the Numero Uno rank in real life, appeals for a more emphatic public image to unclog the pores present in Nick’s tale. His tactics as lawyer Tanner Bolt could easily rival any of Hollywood’s crafty but smooth operating P.R. agents.

In tracking this bumpy trajectory, Fincher employs the pace of a modern day caper, where scenes cut from one scenario to another without lingering on for too long. Then, there are pieces of the puzzle that rest in Amy’s control. Spoilers would disseminate the best laid plans Flynn has in store for her to execute in earnest. All I can say is that she’s a femme fatale of the most voluptuous degree, a vulture who feeds on Nick’s moment of weakness and bays for his blood. Justifying the line that appearances are often deceptive, Rosamund Pike’s performance occupies that intermediate space between beauty and destruction. She grows on us and cracks the code for the antagonistic nature of this flick.

That said, the plot’s cold blooded tempers will make us maintain our distance from points of full throttle praise as its shocking and benumbing on equal grounds. There are also a few logical arcs amiss here and by the time end credits roll, the concept of arraignment in terms of crime and deception question the larger dynamics of justice and the law and order situation.

Apart from giving us a sneak peek into the treacherous ways of law and media players, Gone Girl is ably anchored by a good cast.Neil Patrick Harris, released from his tour de force comic duty on How I Met Your Mother, especially springs a surprise as Amy’s stalker of a high school flame who meets a harrowing, unsparing end. Technically, the film is top notch, be it in terms of the noirish mood, cinematography or background score. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ staccato electronic bursts of disturbia matches wits with Amy and Nick’s roller coaster.

Gone Girl has an insufferable truth in its dissections of our society. We may like it or hate it but we cannot deny Fincher his due in holding us captive to its smart twists until the final nod. Give this one a try.

***

NOTE: This article originally graced my Wattpad page in 2015 as an individual piece and is reproduced here without any alterations. You can read it there as well.