It’s the must-see movie of Autumn…
My immediate thought after seeing Gone Girl last night? Imagine if the girl of the title, Amy Dunne, met the three women from summer’s designated chick flick The Other Woman – she’d be all ‘Bitch please’ with a pair of snarky acetate frames.
The Cameron Diaz starring comedy told a thin – in both substance and thigh – story about three women brought together by their shared and cheating lover. A modern screwball comedy is attempted as three blondes exact revenge. There is also some vague championing of the sisterhood. In one montage the wife character, who can’t be sexually empowered because she wears a hospital stay nightgown and relieves herself while talking to her husband, grinds female hormones into her spouse’s juice so his nipples will become engorged and super-sensitive. The only interesting thing in the whole movie was Don Johnson as Diaz’s father. Meanwhile, Gone Girl, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s runaway bestselling novel, is a beyond intelligent story of another blonde, a missing and maybe wronged wife who is easily one of the most compelling female characters of recent years.
The plot starts out as a straight forward procedural – Ben Affleck’s Nick Dunne comes home to discover his wife Amy (played by Rosamund Pike) missing. He becomes prime suspect in the aftermath while chilling clues from Amy start to appear, tightening the police noose around his terrified neck.
Director David Fincher’s trademark tautness is evident in every frame and can be a bit too clinical. His aloofness dampens the famous Cool Girl monologue from the novel – “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot.” On screen the vitriolic edge isn’t entirely there. Despite this disinfected feel the movie works – book fans will be happy with the respect shown to the original text and newcomers will get the shock of their lives about two-thirds of the way through.
The acting is superb. Ben Affleck is Nick Dunne. He nails the smarmy smile, attracting both occasional empathy and annoyance with his why-are-women-such-hard-work attitude. Rosamund Pike finally gets the leading role she’s been denied this last decade and plays glacial cool with a disquieting ease. The supporting cast is flawless – Tyler Perry as the lawyer who specialises in wife killers and Kim Dickens BS detector detective are two particular standouts.
Image.ie rating: ****
Gone Girl goes on general release today.
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun