This David Fincher movie is at the centre of a controversial storm as to whether it empowers women or sets their cause back decades. Certainly it is a very modern approach to what is essentially a cold, calculating femme fatale but whether or not Fincher has used Rosamund Pike’s character ‘Amazing’ Amy Dunne as anything other than a bewitching, fascinating captivating film character, who drives the narrative of this film in several different directions, is irrelevant when considering how compelling her and co-star Ben Affleck-as her husband Nick- are at delivering nearly two and a half hours of convincingly intense cinema.
It would seem to outsiders that Nick and Amy have the perfect marriage and lifestyle-so organised even their cat has its own room- and cocooned in their own smugness, ‘We are so cool I would want to punch us in the face’ one of them decries at some juncture, but it is all surface and underneath the cracks are rising to the surface.
Matters culminate on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary when we first meet Nick as he visits his twin sister Margo ( Carrie Coon) with matters obviously preying on his mind. On his return home he finds an obviously staged burglary has taken place and Amy has disappeared amidst signs of a struggle. He then finds himself caught up in the midst of accusations and media manipulations as it becomes clear foul play has taken place but with the absence of a corpse an actual arrest for Amy’s murder is nigh on impossible even despite the mounting evidence.
How that evidence keeps mounting!
Nick has been having an affair. Nick has accrued thousands of pounds of credit card debts. Nick has recently negotiated a life insurance policy for over a million dollars in the event anything should happen to Amy.
It all seems a little too clear cut though and even the investigating police officer feels this way and postpones his arrest until the evidence suggests that this is the only feasible option.
It is at this juncture that the film takes the first of its many diversions into another twisted narrative before this one twists into another and then yet another. It is a convincing device and at no point of its two hours plus duration does this film ever waver or lose the audience’s attention taking them to unexpected places with its unpredictable twists and turns. Just when you feel it is time to breathe easier the film takes flight and moves off in another direction without ever feeling overly contrived or unconvincing.
Ben Affleck is outstanding as browbeaten Nick who has to summon up inner strengths to survive the onslaught of the hopelessness of his situation but it is Rosamund Pike who is a revelation. Cold, calculating and detached she is the epitome of the icy blonde Hitchcock searched for throughout his many movies-Tippi Hedren may have looked the part but let’s face it her acting abilities were limited at best- and give a performance which inspires both love and hate in equal measure.
Definitely a cinematic experience worth spending a couple of hours involving yourself with and Fincher’s direction and Trent Reznor’s score serve to up the ante into making this an almost perfect mystery thriller.