By Seyi Odusanya.
Ben Affleck is Chasing Amy again in David Fincher’s latest thriller based on the 2012 novel written by Gillian Flynn. Now I did not read the novel so I can’t make any judgement on how close it sticks to the source material (though Flynn did also write the screenplay so it must be close) but I can say that this film had me hooked from start to finish. I didn’t even notice the 2hr 30min runtime which must mean that I actually enjoyed myself. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is a pretty normal guy with a wife called Amy (Rosamund Pike). One day Amy suddenly disappears and what little clues come to light in the ensuing police investigation point to a violent abduction with murderous consequences, most damming of all is that Nick might be the culprit. That’s the game the film is playing for its first half and Fincher and Flynn play it well for the most part. Fincher is a director who spotlights the procedure of his investigations; he’s more interested in the ‘how’ and less in the ‘why’ and the film is crafted in a way that shows us the characters actions and the devastating consequences of those actions, but less so about the motivations behind them. But the ‘how’ is really interesting to watch here as we not only see the investigation into Amy’s disappearance, but we also witness her marriage with Nick; how they met, fell for each other and their married life all from Amy’s perspective via her diary entries. The narrative of a marriage that turned sour builds in our minds and it stains the way we look at Nick; the film wants us to distrust and doubt him and like I said for the most part it works. I didn’t totally buy into it not because I’m a savvy to Fincher and Flynn’s trick but because the film is 2 and a half hours; that is way too long to spend on asking the simple question of whether or not Nick is guilty. Fincher has to have another trick up his sleeve and he does, I won’t spoil it for you, but he does and the second half of the film turns into an entirely different film, one that adds a new layer of tension and suspense.
The entire cast is on top form Affleck is great as Nick because he’s such a normal guy, he makes mistakes like smiling when he shouldn’t, being too nice and polite to people even though his wife is missing which only makes him look guilty as hell but it’s obvious he’s feeling the strain of it all and it makes him believable. Carrie Goon as Nick’s twin sister Margot is great, she supports her brother because he’s family but even she can’t completely cast aside her doubts, Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney is great. You know who else was really good? Tyler Perry as the Nick’s slick lawyer Tanner Bolt, kudos Fincher you made Tyler Perry a good actor. The real star though is undoubtedly Rosamund Pike who steals the show (Oscar nod, calling it now). She excellently portrays all the different facets of Amy’s character; the good and the bad. She’s the most interesting character in the film; she’s alluring, seductive, supportive, dangerous and devious, trying to get a grip on what drives her is difficult because there’s not one singular reason, but a multitude and Rosamund Pike balances all those different sides to Amy so well. I will say though there is somebody who deserves even greater mention, because in a cast so good they standout all the more as a bad actor. Patrick Fugit plays Det Rhonda’s partner and he has only one facial expression and tone of voice; slightly smug. That’s it, that’s all he does, be a smug prick who I wanted to punch really hard.
This isn’t purely a gloomy thriller like Seven, Zodiac or even The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it has the look and feel of those films but it’s actually a satirical take on marriage and at times it’s rather funny. It goes through so many twists and turns that threaten to derail the film into the realms of absurdity, however Fincher maintains a steady hand throughout and it never loses the plot. An engaging, surprising and well-crafted thriller and one of better films I’ve seen this year.
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