Warning. You will leave Gone Girl mad as hell. It will get inside your head, crawl down into your nervous system and dance the jig around your heart and try to make it chilly inside.
Gillian Flynn took her novel to the one director who could make this material sing and that was the brilliant David Fincher. The man doesn’t miss. He crafted classics with Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. He can do crime, dark comedy, uncomfortable sexual drama and elicit performances from actors few others can. Here, he merges all the genres together for a thriller that keeps you guessing.
Gone Girl can’t be explained without giving away juicy plot details that need to be digested inside a theater and not on your iPhone at a bookstore. I can tell you this. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are perfectly cast as the greatest looking couple who carry a warehouse full of secrets that uncoil as the plot points and twists unfold on screen. They are Nick and Amy Dunne. A couple of New York writers who get rocked by the recession and drift apart when they move to Cape Girardeau. When she goes missing, he falls under the microscope of the local police, talk show hosts and the locals.
Affleck has always been a better actor than he has ever given credit for but he truly nails it here. He was born to play the well meaning yet weak in the knees Nick, who seems a little less worried about his missing wife than the usual husband. Nick is charming, speaks well, and doesn’t show harm but has a few secrets buried in his gut (pre-Batman Fleck body). Pike plays a number of personalities and this movie could be her coming out party as an actress or type cast her as the sweet blonde who rocked Fincher’s mystery. Carrie Coon is dynamite as Nick’s caring yet clingy sister. Tyler Perry puts the perfect shade of slick on the lawyer struggling to free Nick from potential doom. Kim Dickens is solid as the detective clearing the waters and Neil Patrick Harris is something entirely different than you’d expect playing a creepy dude from Amy’s past. The entire cast makes for a good ensemble and everybody gets their moments. In my eyes, Affleck nails his role the best but the cast as a whole is aces.
Trent Reznor’s score is perfectly gloomy and restrained, never overpowering the slow devil’s dance being transmitted by Fincher’s directing, Flynn’s writing and the cast’s flavor.
The only thing that kept me from loving this film was the ending. It will hit you in the gut and then the head. It pissed me off. Flynn stuck to her guns and kept the ending intact, but the result isn’t as golden as one would think. It just made me mad. I get the idea. When Law and Order is referenced and mocked early on in the film, I get the idea Fincher is going for. This plot won’t get tied up the way the audience wants it. Nice and tight? Nope. It’s going to be chilly and awkward, like a marriage slowly coming undone. That’s the effect and the goal. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Gone Girl lacks conventional components and is utterly unpredictable and maddening. That’s part of its appeal and also part of the reason I can admire it more than I love it.
It’s depiction of marriage isn’t far from accurate, and the movie has a few great moments. The film has a much needed sense of humor as well, and doesn’t take itself that seriously. The ending simply leaves you a bit queasy.
A comedian once said, “Nobody ever wins a fight in a marriage. You just hope to win as many rounds as you can and win on points.” Gone Girl’s overall moral doesn’t stray far from that theory, and it’s a smart bold approach.It’s a film worth seeing. It just won’t leave you with the best feeling when you leave.
Gone Girl is easier to admire than to love.