The chilly woman at the heart of David Fincher’s latest drama, played by Rosamund Pike, is likely to divide audiences. Xan Brooks reports.
The main character in Gone Girl, the new film from director David Fincher, is controlling, duplicitous and potentially deadly, an angel of vengeance who runs effortless rings around her cheating husband. Most viewers would be forgiven for regarding icy Amy Dunne as a nightmarish villainess. For actor Rosamund Pike, however, the woman is a new kind of screen heroine.
"My reaction to her goes beyond like or dislike - I understand her," Pike told reporters as Gone Girl premiered at the 52nd New York Film Festival. "In other films, a strong female character is only shown as being strong because she's like a man. But the thing about Amy is that she could never have been a man. She's purely female. People don't like me saying that, but it's true." Based on the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl casts the British actor opposite Ben Affleck as a married couple in meltdown, pitting Amy's cool panache against her husband's boorish blundering.
Previously regarded as a cinephile's backwater, the New York Film Festival caught experts by surprise with the strength of this year's line-up. Gone Girl is the first of three high-profile titles to receive its world premiere in Manhattan. It will be followed by the first showing of Paul Thomas Anderson's crime drama Inherent Vice and Citizenfour, a documentary on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Fincher's thriller is getting rave reviews and looks set to spark flurried debate over its fractious take on modern-day marriage. It's a film that implicitly invites the audience to pick a side. Should they support the chilly, snobbish Amy, whose disappearance sparks a media witch-hunt, or shifty Nick, who's sleeping with his student?
Like Pike, Affleck admitted to feeling a grudging affinity with the character he plays. "You can't play someone if you think he's a dick," he said. "But it's interesting: men and women seem to have very different reactions to the character."
3 more David Fincher films
Homicide detectives (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) investigate the case of a sadistic serial killer whose murders correspond to the seven deadly sins.
2 Fight Club
An office worker (Edward Norton) meets a soap maker (Brad Pitt) and they form a "fight club" in a basement, where men meet to fight recreationally.
3 The Social Network
Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake star in the story of the founding of Facebook and the resulting lawsuits.
See this Thursday's TimeOut magazine for more coverage on Gone Girl which opens in New Zealand this week.