It’s usually a pretty good sign when the writer of a top-selling book collaborates on the bringing to the screen of her baby, so it was a relief to find that Gillian Flynn had gone one better and done all of it herself. Good too, to see David Fincher in the director’s chair – a man who finds it difficult to make a bad film but who came very close to pulling it off with Alien 3 (1992). Fincher brought Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross along to add their brand of electro-melancholia to the proceedings, too. Surely this had to be a hit?
Not-really-spoiler alert: It was a hit but wish me luck in getting through the next couple of paragraphs without leaking too much in the way of plot details. Obviously, this wasn’t going to be the standard missing persons fare, with much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth. Oh, hands are wrung and teeth gnashed for sure but not for the reasons you might expect.
The story opens with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) standing, alone, in his front yard, staring into space. The reason for his pensive mood is the diappearance of his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike). Obviously upset, he does all the TV appearances, co-operates fully with the cops and does what anyone else would do, were their wife gone. in time, it transpires that the press might not believe him to be all sweetness and light and start a campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt around him.
The constant attention of Desi Collins (Neil Patrick Harris) was always a concern, could he have something to do with Amy’s disappearance? It seems Nick’s only true friend in the whole world is his sister Margo (Carrie Coon). His ‘celebrity’ lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) has hisback but the game he plays isn’t always as savoury as it might be.
Small but pertinent rant begins here
A lot of people seem to have already written reams about how this film is an obvious polemic to feminism and how it portrays how badly women are treated in society. An equal number have written on its misandry, using the same or similar arguments to present the opposite viewpoint. Vast swathes of text also appear in a simple Google search about the number of ‘plot holes’ in the film. My, how the basement-dwelling neckbeards and Fedora-wearers like to rehash everything their friends have said and pass it off as their own unique insight into the creative process. “But it’s all wrong” they bleat into their chosen social media platform, adding to the reams of pointless tosh already writen on the subject.
Tell you what guys (and it largely is guys, sadly) if you don’t feel you can suspend even a little disbelief for a couple of hours and just sit back with your popcorn in one hand and sparkling beverage of choice in the other and just enjoy the fucking movie, stay at home. When we want your opinion, we’ll beat it out of you.
Small but pertinent rant ends here
For the rest (majority) of us, sit back and enjoy the ride. Isms aside, this is a story that plays off man against woman in their respective geder roles, until it doesn’t. or does it? It also relies heavily on the interaction of no more than five characters, in essence. It’s a hard thing to keep going for over two hours, except with a great cast and a director who knows his way around these things like the back of his hand. Aside from my personal suspension of disbelief wavering slightly at the thought of Neil Patrick Harris not being Barney from How I Met Your Mother (2005-14) it’s very easy to wonder where the time went. Ignore the internet nay-sayers and enjoy this creepy and nerve-jangling potboiler.