Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No. 7: Rosamund Pike

To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019, we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team has selected 30 actresses. Writer James Cain looks at Rosamund Pike’s performance in “Gone Girl” and why it’s the best of her career.

By James Cain

Moderate spoilers ahead!

Looking at Rosamund Pike, you might think she’s the quintessential English Rose, another white British actor who’s come from money to star in umpteen period dramas. And while that’s true in part – Pike went to a fancy school and Oxford, and much of her excellent work has been in films set some time ago – it’s a film set in the modern day that’s garnered her the most acclaim.

In David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” (2014) Pike plays Amy Dunne, the titular girl whose disappearance kicks off the mystery. Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay, the film follows her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) who upon her vanishing becomes both the police’s and the media’s prime suspect.

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That is until about halfway through the film. After discovering that Nick has begun an affair with one of his own students, Amy snapped and faked her own kidnapping, giving us the cinema equivalent of finally hearing the other person give their side of the story after a breakup. Only, while Nick is a scumbag, a misogynist and a guy who potentially has some real issues of his own, Amy is an absolute psychopath.

When discussing why he cast Pike, Fincher said: “Rosamund was someone that I had seen in four or five different movies over 10 years, and I never got a bead on her, never got a sense of who she was. And I pride myself on being able to watch actors and sort of know instinctively what their utility belt is, and I don’t have that with Rosamund. I didn’t know what she was building off of. There was an opacity there and it was interesting.

He also seemed to enjoy that, like Amy, Pike was the only child of wealthy artists (it’s probable that Pike’s opera singer’s parents aren’t such arseholes).

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It was a savvy move by Fincher to cast Pike, and she absolutely delivers on his desire for a perpetually-ambiguous Amy Dunne. The film’s villain / anti-hero is downright impossible to summarise. She’s clearly loved Nick in the past (though if “The Psychopath Test” is being remembered properly here, that may be because he was hers), but you truly believe Amy’s desire to see Nick hang for her murder. One second Amy is vulnerable and terrified, the next she’s in control and terrifying. The character is absolutely all over the place in the best way possible, and Pike sells it 100%.

While Amy isn’t the lead character of “Gone Girl”, she’s arguably the most vital, and given the mid-point twist the casting here is vital. With Pike’s voice you believe the chilling (and often humorous) voiceovers where Amy lays out the full devastation that she has gifted to her philandering husband. With her eyes you believe that, yep, she has absolutely no problem committing one awful, violent crime with zero fucks given. And with her charisma, charm and seduction, you realise that she’ll likely never be beaten, because who can outwit this monster? Especially when, from time to time, you kinda like her…

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Pike is only 40 years old, so hopefully she has many years of great performances ahead of her. But if she never beats her work as Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl”, that’s fair enough.

Let us know your favourite performance by Rosamund Pike in the comment below!

 

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