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Gone Girl


Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, David Clennon, Lisa Banes, Missi Pyle, Emily Ratajkowski, Casey Wilson, Lola Kirke, Boyd Holbrook, Sela A. Ward

Director: David Fincher

“Sleep”, as the celebrated actor, musician and wit Oscar Levant is rumoured to have said, “is also a criticism”.

So, rather too often perhaps, the phrase “to give away any more of the plot would be unfair” in a review might simply indicate that the critic simply succumbed to sleep.

Not here, however.

It would be a real crime to give away the complex and continuously surprising storyline of this unnerving thriller skillfully scripted by Gillian Flynn from her best-selling novel. The plot twists and turns like a politician being interviewed at a party conference but, unlike politicians, Gone Girl grips from start to finish, taking you by surprise when it switches direction time after time to come up with a genuinely shattering and unexpected climax flavoured with splendid cynicism and apt black humour.

The setting is small town Missouri where Ben Affleck returns home one night to find his wife Rosamund Pike missing and blood spatter in the kitchen. Before long Affleck (“it’s like a ‘Law and Order ‘episode” is being grilled by cop Kim Dickens (excellent) and his life becomes a living hell thanks to monstrous hounding by the media who lay siege to his home while vile celebrity TV interviewer Missi Pyle (even more loathsome than the real thing) blackens his reputation.

So is Affleck a killer?

Flynn’s screenplay switches back and forth in time from Pike and Affleck first meeting in New York to charting the progress of their relationship with David Fincher’s deft direction keeping you guessing and becoming increasingly stressed by suspense. For my money, it’s his best work since Seven. Vividly blending sharp characterisation and picture-perfect performances with snappy surprise twists and showcasing Pike whose extraordinary portrayal of the ‘gone girl’, complete with a totally convincing American accent’ should earn her well-deserved nominations – and the awards too.

Affleck, too, is unexpectedly good as the tormented target of the law.

And all the supporting performances are right on the button.

I can offer no higher praise for Gone Girl than to say I would have been more than happy to pay to see it.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox . Colour by deluxe.
149 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 30 Sep 2014