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Movie Review: Gone Girl

October 3, 2014

When Gillian Flynn’s psychological thriller “Gone Girl” hit the bookshelves, it was a given that the story would quickly head to Hollywood. Flynn’s character driven narrative is a twisty, pitch-black read that constantly keeps you guessing as to where it’s going. It’s stupendously well written, and now its movie counterpart is one of the most anticipated films of the year.

Gone Girl is so full of twists and turns that it’s difficult to summarize the plot without divulging too much, but here goes. On the morning of their five-year anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) arrives home to find signs of a struggle, and no signs of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike).  Police detective Rhonda (Kim Dickens) and officer Jim (Patrick Fugit) initially find traces of blood in the kitchen, but luminol tests uncover copious amounts of blood sloppily cleaned up off the kitchen floor.

Nick becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, and the case is catapulted into the glaring spotlight of the 24-hour news cycle. Nancy Grace types smell blood in the water, and circle in for the media kill, endlessly dissecting Nick’s seemingly atypical behavior at press conferences. It’s an apt depiction of the real life media circuses that emerge when an attractive white woman goes missing in suburbia.

Meanwhile, Amy’s diary entries divulge the true nature of their not so perfect marriage. In flashbacks we watch a blissful courtship and marriage that is eventually supplanted by Amy’s despair over being transplanted from her beloved New York to Missouri. It’s not long before she withers into the role of bored housewife, a fate she despises. By the time the couple hits the five-year mark, they can barely stand one another.

The story serves as an excellent examination of the dissolution of a marriage. Both parties harbor secrets that unfold throughout the film. Behind the shellacked Barbie and Ken exteriors there are some truly terrifying revelations.

Spot-on casting and directing elevate Girl into a realm far above most thrillers.  Affleck is expertly cast as Nick, who always appears as if he is stifling a smirk. He actually looks like he is struggling to maintain a blank expression for the sake of the cameras. His natural inclination to be a charming flirt can scarcely be contained, even when it is crucial for him to act like a bereaved spouse. Pike is equally impressive as Amy. Her exquisite beauty effectively masks a complex character seething underneath with anger and resentment. Pike’s career has been hit or miss. She was amazing in Barney’s Version, but dismal in Jack Reacher. Girl. This is the film that proves her talent.

Standouts in the supporting cast are Missi Pyle as the Nancy Grace clone, Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister and Tyler Perry (yes, that Tyler Perry) as Nick’s slick attorney.

Director David Fincher is no stranger to bleak material (Seven, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and he places his signature stamp here as well. Most of the scenes are dimly lit, with blue and black muted tones, matching the tone of the story.  Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who frequently collaborate with Fincher) provide the score. The film is taut and suspenseful, punctuated with moments of shocking reveals. It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish, and it’s likely to emerge as one of the year’s best.


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