What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?
There comes a time in most relationships when one partner tests the other. You know how it goes. Everything seems is moving along smoothly without any high drama, both of you comfortable in each others presence with a basic emotional telepathy having developed over months or years; a happy, willing component in a well oiled adult relationship in a rut but what’s the alternative? To return to the alienation and uncertainty of being on your own? No, things are fine, this is good, we love each other right? This is how it is. But in the back of your mind, something stirs and never seems to sleep, it wants to question everything. It’s looking for a crack to slither through, a doubt on which it can feed and suddenly threaten everything about your seemingly ideal life. One or maybe both of you have compromised and be made to reckon, face up to an unpleasant form of ‘truth’.
David Fincher’s truly discomfiting and mordant who/whydoneit, adapted from Gillian Flynn’s 2012 bestselling novel is a darkly satirical, forensic, heightened exploration of that decisive relationship moment and here it’s sink or swim time for Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a genial ordinary joe put through the emotional wringer, his sanity and fortitude pushed to the limit as the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his trophy wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) unfolds. Dunne’s seemingly apathetic reaction to Amy’s disappearance aggravates the local police and townsfolk in the small backwater Missouri town he resides whereupon the oblivious Nick becomes public enemy number 1 at the centre of a media witch-hunt, a hate figure for entitled women the nation over raised on the plastic Disney fantasy of the perfect husband and home.
Where the movie goes from there I really can’t spoil. What I can say for sure is that David Fincher finds his wicked groove again after the slick but perfunctory redo of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Much like his best recent work with Zodiac and The Social Network, his sleek, shadowy style complements the story perfectly. This is precision film-making, not a shot wasted as it dissects modern marriage and society. Fincher and Flynn delve into the whirling psychosis, hysteria and insecurities at the heart of both in wickedly entertaining fashion.
What Flynn and Fincher have achieved together is rare; a mainstream thriller that is at times wildly implausible in a Hitchcock/De Palma fashion – that goes with the genre territory – but is also pretty unflinching, merciless and bleak in its depiction of marriage in a way that Ingmar Bergman or any Euro art-house director would admire.