Gone Girl – The Movie

Rating:

Marriage and Mayhem

Main Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike

Director: David Fincher

Every marriage has its secrets.  Some just have more than others.  Secrets – and their consequences – play a central role in Gone Girl, a remarkably effective cinematic adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel.  It’s a thriller that’s certain to keep you guessing from beginning to end.

After receiving a call from a concerned neighbor, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns to his stylish suburban home in the fictional town of North Carthage, Missouri, to find that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has vanished, on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary no less.  A shattered coffee table causes him to panic and he calls the police, suspecting the worst.  Much to his surprise, with few clues to go on, Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect in Amy’s disappearance.  In a way that’s become almost cliché, the media descends on the scene and the neighbors – along with Amy’s parents – initiate a state-wide search and rescue mission.  All the while, we’re left wondering why Nick’s protestations of innocence seem to ring a bit hollow.

Although she’s gone, the viewer is allowed to look at Amy’s meticulously kept diary, which tells much about the beautiful couple’s storybook romance and subsequent marriage.  It also provides a less than flattering look at Nick from his wife’s perspective, revealing some secrets that he would rather keep hidden.  The effective interplay between Nick’s version of events and Amy’s detailed record keeping generates a high level of tension that sets up the frenzied twists and turns in the second half of the movie.

More than just a pretty face, Affleck deftly balances his character on the razor’s edge, never allowing the viewer to really be sure of his guilt or innocence.  Few can play the douche as well this man.  Pike is also excellent as the lovely damsel in distress.  Supporting performances by Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and Tyler Perry round a consistently terrific cast.

With great films like Fight Club and Se7en to his credit, I expect a lot from director David Fincher and he delivers here, never missing an opportunity to disturb or shock the viewer.  He wisely eschews premonition, letting the increasingly convoluted plot spiral under its own power, without excessive flamboyance.  Additionally, Gillian Flynn does a fine job adapting her novel for the screen without a stumble and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross team up to create an effectively creepy but unobtrusive soundtrack.

A superbly crafted thriller that’s sure to surprise anyone who hasn’t read the book, I can recommend Gone Girl for anyone who enjoys an intimate look at the dark side of human nature.  Five out of five stars.

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