**Warning – This article features mild spoilers for the film Gone Girl**
The first memorable musical moment of David Fincher’s recent film, Gone Girl, takes place in a flashback as protagonists Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) trade witticisms before embracing in a cloud of sugar in a New York back alley. The scene’s mood is set by it’s soft lighting and the gentlest of marimba hits making the moment feel like something out of a fairytale, and that’s because it is.
If you’ve seen the movie, it’s clear that, above all, Gone Girl is a film about perceptions and the versions of ourselves that we create, for others and for ourselves. In this early scene, audiences are meant to believe what we’re witnessing is a real event, only to later find out it’s a fictional romanticization by Amy to build a perception of the early stages of her and Nick’s romance. Trent Reznor’s soft and ethereal score follows suit in this scene, one of the gentlest compositions of his career.
The genius of Reznor’s score though is that it plays off the audience’s expectation that things are too good to be true, or at the very least, too good to stay this way. Reznor’s dreamy score plays out with a warmth and fragility only to be regurgitated later in the film. As we learn more about the darkness lurking under Nick and Amy’s relationship and the mystery at hand, Reznor’s revisits the film’s early compositions with some of the dissonant and abrasive sounds that characterized his Nine Inch Nails work.
As the protagonists move from our initial perceptions of them, so does the score from it’s initial light airiness. Compositions like the cheekily-titled “The Way He Looks At Me“ rank among the darkest and most experimental music Reznor’s ever produced. Reznor’s digital orchestra spends the duration of the 3 minute-track fighting it out with a host of sounds that include a ticking clock, a dial-up modem, and what sounds like the death gasps of a drowning man, to create something truly visceral and unsettling.
David Fincher created a film about the versions of ourselves we create for others and the social pressure to keep these perceptions others have of ourselves alive. For the music of his film to work, he would need to employ someone who could create music at once stunningly beautiful and startlingly ugly. Given his history in both ambient and industrial music, and their recent working relationship, there was no perfect match for this role than Trent Reznor. Reznor and partner Atticus Rose’s score for Gone Girl doesn’t only perfectly soundtrack this elegantly sinister masterpiece, it tells it’s story.
David Fincher’s film Gone Girl is currently in theaters everywhere and Trent Reznor & Atticus Rose’s soundtrack to the film is currently available on Columbia Records.