Best Lead Actress - Rosamund Pike
David Fincher is one of those directors who you just know is going to make a good film. His is the brilliance behind such films as Fight Club, Zodiac, and the American adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, all of which are fantastically tense films with killer plot twists and layers of thematic depth implicit in those twists. And now he has brought us Gone Girl, a cynical take on the sensationalism of imperfect marriages and the demonization of those who do not wear masks of nuclear familial bliss in our popular culture. But more rudimentary and essential than that, Gone Girl is a wicked suspense thriller, pulling you in every which way so that you won’t know what happens next.
Nick comes home on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary to find that his living room has been trashed and his wife Amy has gone missing. He calls the police and an investigation begins, but Nick is labelled the prime suspect in his wife’s murder as pieces of evidence start to point towards him. However, perhaps more damning than any physical evidence is that certain facts of Nick’s impropriety, such as an adulterous relationship and apparent physical abuse, begin to fuel a media circus, only enhanced by his awkward attempts to seem emotionally invested in finding a wife whom he no longer loves. This makes for a good film in and of itself, but what elevates the film to greatness is a mid-point twist that recontextualizes everything you think you know up until that point, and then proceeds to deconstruct that twist to its realistic and horrifying logical conclusion. To say anything more would ruin the fun that the film’s plot has to offer, so I’ll leave that for you to discover yourselves.
Brilliant screenplay aside, this film features a fantastic cast that is definitely deserving of many more Oscar nominations than it has received, if not some wins. Ben Affleck is the emotionally distant Nick, and Affleck does a great job of walking the line between making Nick a villainous scumbag when it comes to his marriage, but completely sympathetic as we recognize that he is not capable of murder. Tyler Perry (of all people!) and Neil Patrick Harris bring their absolute best to the screen, turning relatively minor roles into some of the most twisted and duplicitous in recent memory, adding depth to characters that could otherwise have just served as vessels to move the plot forward. The real prize, though, must go to Rosemund Pike for her performance as Amy. Seen in flashbacks narrated by entries in Amy’s diary, Pike carries the role of a troubled wife in an unhappy marriage with a kind of gravitas that is rarely seen, and her prowess only grows as the film goes on, revealing enormous complexities to Amy’s character.
I run the risk of spoiling crucial plot elements if I go any further, so you will have to trust me when I say that Gone Girl is a fantastic film. For the performances alone, it could be one of the best of 2014, but add in David Fincher’s superb direction, a killer screenplay, and shockingly resonant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and you have a classic that will be remembered for years to come. You should definitely see this film.