You know that when a movie starts out with a romantic scene but the voice-over suggests murderous thoughts instead of romanticism, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Gone Girl, based on the best seller by Gillian Flynn and directed by David Fincher is a long, slow, torturous ride where you keep getting lost along the way, refusing to ask for directions.
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home (the day being their 5th anniversary), finds his house in disarray and can’t locate his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) and calls the police to report her missing. Nick then recounts through flashbacks how they met, he immediately captured Amy’s heart and they fell madly in love and married. Amy describes him as being smart, creative and charismatic whereas Ben plays him with a dull, wooden charisma that makes us wonder why they stayed married this long. Amy recounts the past five years differently than the happily married picture painted by Nick. Once we become aware of the “tale of two marriages” the rest of the movie slows down to a crawl as it focuses on the search for the missing Amy, the media scrutiny and trying to solve Amy’s disappearance while making it look like Nick may or may not be responsible.
David Fincher takes a slow, twisting detour in trying to solve Amy’s disappearance by first pointing the finger at Nick, and then pointing the finger at Amy herself. What Fincher did well was how he captured the media in all its frenzy and overblown, exaggerated television coverages by satirically mocking Nancy Grace and Katie Couric style reporting.
What saves this film is the supporting cast. Kim Dickens as the investigating Sherriff who just can’t rest until she figures out what is going on; Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous kid) (more of him please) as her partner, Officer Gilpin who thinks right away that Nick did it; Neil Patrick Harris, rich, preppy and smarmy ex-boyfriend of Amy; and Tyler Perry, as the slick, rich, “defender of accused husbands” attorney (a refreshing departure from Madea that finally convinces us that “Tyler can act”). As Nick’s twin sister, Carrie Coon is a pleasant surprise that displays the depth of her loyalty and devotion to her brother no matter the suspicious circumstances plaguing her brother.
Affleck’s portrayal of Nick reminded me of his performance in Argo, where there were great ingredients for a character but the character was never baked, and fell flat. Fincher may be the blame because he never managed to tell the story with the believability and provocative storytelling that was evident in his earlier films: Seven, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network. Gone Girl does keep you guessing and will take you on an interesting journey, but when it’s all over you’ll still be scratching your head. It’s the perfect movie if you’ve ever felt that tug of “love-hate” for someone.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry
Director: David Fincher
Company: 20th Century Fox
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: R (bloody violence, strong sexual content/nudity, and language)