David Fincher’s “Gone Girl”: A Bleak View of Modern Marriage by R. J. Moeller
Few directors capture bleakness in tone, story, and color on the silver screen quite like David Fincher. From Seven to The Game to The Social Network, the cinematic worlds created by Fincher always have something dark, something foreboding, hanging over the characters and their tragic circumstances.
On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?
Based on the popular best-selling book of the same name, Gone Girl is at its core a story about marriage and relationships and “the things we do to each other.” The author of the book (and screenwriter for the film adaptation), Gillian Flynn, clearly is unafraid to take her female characters into some pretty dark places and paints an overall pessimistic view of human nature and the flawed reasons why people get married. The 145-minute run-time is a fiercely fought battle between writer and director for who can out-bleak the other.
Affleck’s Dunne is a man who originally fell in love with a flawed woman who pretended to be something she was not—namely, sane. When the challenges of life mount for Nick Dunne, the part-time professor pursues extramarital affairs with one of his college students. His wife Amy is a nut-job who turns out to be a devious, manipulative sociopath who uses a pregnancy to get what she wants. All of the either miserable or dumb people in the film are those who are married and have kids.
Not the brightest portrait of holy matrimony, wouldn’t you say?