The brilliance of Gone Girl cannot be overstated, nor can it really be elucidated without diluting its many, many pleasures. This is a contradiction, a quandary, of which David Fincher and screenwriter Gillian Flynn (adapting her own bestseller) would no doubt approve. Unspooling from the suspicious disappearance of outwardly icy and unlovable Amy Dunne (Pike), both in flashback, to the beginning of Amy and husband Nick’s (Affleck) relationship, and in the present, as Nick somewhat half-heartedly attempts to recover her, there is something not quite right about everything on screen; a strangeness maintained in no small part by the leads’ mesmerising, layered performances.
A tricksy mystery, an ironic, bat-shit crazy erotic thriller of the type Joe Eszterhas and Brian De Palma in their pomp might think too lurid, and a sharp satire of pervasive tabloid media and the parasitic communal grief it fosters in times of personal crisis, the picture hinges on and delights in its ambiguity. And its artifice; while Fincher and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s frosty, voyeuristic gaze is deliberately incongruous, the excellent, subtle supporting turns from talented TV actors (Dickens, Coon, Harris) and a shameless tack-merchant (Perry) both subvert and compliment the tawdry subject matter. It’s gloriously deep, with a despair at humanity typical of the director's work, but Gone Girl also succeeds purely on its gorgeous, thoroughly entertaining surface. One of Fincher's finest, and certainly his most playful.