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“Gone Girl” a Baffling Crime Thriller (Film Review)




Review by John Delia

It may be a little long, get pretty dicey and turn your head in disgust, but Gone Girl will win you over in the end.  The brilliantly written crime drama has this year’s top performances, creative direction and enough twists to curl a whole head of hair.  From its cunning elementary opening the audience slowly gets sucked into this heinous story that’s fed from the realization that you want to dislike it, but can’t take your eyes off the screen.

Local Bar owner Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home one late afternoon to find his living room coffee table destroyed and his wife Amy (Rosamond Pike) is missing.  He immediately notifies the police of the incident.  When they arrive they see the damage and find blood in the kitchen.  Because of the high profile of the missing woman and insistence by her parents, the police make the decision to search for the woman as a suspected missing person using posters and billboards.  When clues start to point to Nick as a probable suspect in the disappearance, the whole town becomes suspicious of his involvement in a possible murder.

Nick (Ben Affleck) gives a speech at a rally for his missing wife Amy

Nick (Ben Affleck) gives a speech at a rally for his missing wife Amy

The film spools out slowly using flashbacks of their beginnings together and the disagreements they have had.  Director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) keeps the film tight from the initial accusation that Nick is a suspect until some evidence comes forward that may clear him.  He uses his actors well, initially providing suspicion with a cold reception by police and Nick not having a clue to where his wife may be.  As he moves his film along Fincher then introduces most all the elements that will provide plot twists and a good measure of uncertainty, but not a predictable ending.

Nick (Affleck) and Amy (Pike) when they met five years earlier

Nick (Affleck) and Amy (Pike) when they met five years earlier

Affleck devours the role of Nick and brings his A game to Gone Girl. He’s the lost husband who can’t figure out why he’s in the position of being accused.  He tries to come up with answers, but since his wife has a popular public visibility as a writer, it becomes an impossible challenge.  He does a nice job of slowly becoming frightened with the realization the police, his wife’s parents and a crowd of dissidents do not believe him. Just putting this out there, but Ben can chalk this up to a win win as he pulls off one of the toughest roles of his career.

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) confides in his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon)

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) confides in his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon)

Delivering a soft kind woman to the screen that plays out like a saint to the audience, Fincher works his magic with actress Rosamond Pike.  He makes her character sweet, a writer of young child’s stories that have been received by a huge fan base, especially mothers who want their daughters to be just like her story character.  Flashbacks reveal the loving relationship that Amy provides to Nick over the five years since they met with Pike adding the fuel that points suspicion at Nick. Very soon after all is set up by director Fincher, the mood changes and Pike takes her character to a sinister plateau.  It’s a role that should garner her chances at a Best Actress. It’s that good.

The film isn’t without some negatives however, there’s the slow buildup of the plot where I found myself bothered by wanting to know where the story’s going. It wavers with several incongruities and time discrepancies, especially the immediacy of calling it a murder within the first 24 hours, and the quick appearance of huge signs printed on posters and billboards within a day.  At first I was thinking that, wonder if she comes home and was just decompressing from an argument by going away for a day or two? Well you get the idea.

Gone Girl has been rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language. The film plays out nearly two and a half hours, but if you like thrillers with a lot of twists it will feel like a lot less.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A good crime drama that pulls off some very creative mind games. (B+)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Sela Ward, and Tyler Perry
Directed by: David Fincher
Genre: Crime, Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language
Running Time: 2 hrs 28 mins
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release Formats: 2D

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