Movie Review: Gone Girl

Jonathan Janssen – Reviewer

“The date-night movie of the decade for couples who dream of destroying one another.”

Right off the bat, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone boils the new film Gone Girl into one appropriate summary.  Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, House of Cards) has taken Gillian Flynn’s screen adaptation of her novel of the same name and transformed it into a beautifully haunting look at marriage, social status and the depravity of the human condition.

How does one address the plot of a film when said plot is as precariously delicate and disturbingly twisted as Gone Girl?  The following plot summary will be very basic, to keep the spoilers to a minimum.  On his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home to discover his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), to be missing.  As police detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) begins to piece more and more of the crime together, Nick is thrown into suspicion in the eyes of the police, the media, and the nation.  Suddenly, the image of his seemingly happy marriage begins to crumble as those closest to him start questioning Nick’s claim of innocence.Gone Girl Poster

With so many twists and turns that Gone Girl at times feels like multiple stories, Fincher and Flynn have created a film that keeps its audience constantly guessing.  The reveals have the perfect amount of build-up, so as not to become mundane or abrupt, and they consistently serve the purpose of furthering the plot.  No scene is wasted in establishing numerous plot devices, character traits, or thematic elements.  By using a slow, boiling beginning that sets the stage of a smart thriller, Fincher shocks his crowd all the more when the plot painstakingly devolves into a wacky, graphic, and very darkly comedic ending.

The utter lack of character development that is persistent to the end of the film would seem to hinder, yet it adds to the horror experienced at the ending.  Affleck – fulfilling his prophecy to become “that guy you want to punch in the face” – and Pike shine in their roles, with a few standout secondary appearances from Neil Patrick Harris as a high school sweetheart still obsessed with Amy, Carrie Coons as Nick’s twin sister who is his only confidant throughout his upheaval, and a surprisingly spectacular performance by Tyler Perry as a defense lawyer who specializes in husbands being accused of killing their spouses.  Perry steals the show in every scene he appears in, stepping out of his usual tired, hackney roles and into a smart, cool role that portrays his comedic abilities much more adeptly.

With stunningly poignant cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth which convincingly portrays the underlying filth of suburban life and an intelligent, minimalist soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl succeeds in its attempts at becoming one of the best films of 2014.

One is left with Affleck’s most haunting lines of the film:  “What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”  The answer to these questions is up to you.

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