Film Review: ‘Gone Girl’

Never to Return?
October 4, 2014 Updated: October 10, 2014

With the screenplay of “Gone Girl” written by Gillian Flynn, herself the author of the 2012 best-selling novel, and in the gifted hands of director David Fincher, the viewer is in for an engrossing, two-and-a-half-hour, swiftly passing ride.

Whether one wants to view the film as a portrait of a complex, often stress-filled or distressing marriage, or simply as a murder mystery, is up to the viewer. There’s something for just about everyone.

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his beauteous wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) are the couple everyone wants to invite for dinner. Married just five years, they’re charming, perfect.

How is it, then, that one afternoon, when Nick arrives at his pleasant but ordinary suburban home, he finds Amy missing? No trace of her.

The police detective (played by Kim Dickens) is pleasant enough, but one senses her instinctive distrust of Nick, the person closest to the missing woman. Nick is affable, at least at first. But gradually his sense of calm begins to crumble.

For the first time, his in-laws (played by David Clennon and Lisa Banes) begin to distrust him. The media, soon rallying against him, influences public opinion. Those interminable searches for Amy through the nearby woods are wearing.

Through flashbacks we learn that things have not always been rosy with Nick and Amy. Initially presenting loving beginnings, the marriage gradually begins to deteriorate. An argument about whether they are to have kids lands Amy on the floor, at Nick’s hands. She is becoming frightened of her mate.

Too many people are wondering: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

In the film
In the film “Gone Girl,” Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck, L) is questioned by detectives about the disappearance of his wife, Amy, as Nick’s in-laws (Lisa Banes and David Clennon) look on. (Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox)

 

The featured couple is ideally cast. Affleck’s basic cool, which subtly shows cracks as time wears on, has a terrific foil in Rosamund Pike. Chameleon-like, she pulls out all the emotional stops, exhibiting a myriad of colors: alternately shy, sexy, wild, terrified. Her Amy marks a tour de force.

Director Fincher’s unique hand shows throughout. Even in the lightest of scenes, an undercurrent of darkness or uncertainty piques one’s senses. An actor’s director as well, small roles are beautifully played. There is Tyler Perry as a pricey attorney specializing in taking on tough cases; Carrie Coon is Nick’s twin sister, Margo, who never loses faith in her brother.

Technical elements are top drawer, with Jeff Cronenweth responsible for the camera work.

Whether one wants to be simply entertained or to dig under the surface of this complex and sometimes bleak character study, “Gone Girl” is well worth the price of admission.

 

‘Gone Girl’
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Running time: 2 hours, 23 minutes
Release date: Oct. 3
Rated R

4.5 stars out of 5

Diana Barth writes and publishes New Millennium, an arts publication. For information: diabarth@juno.com

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