As I sit here and try to plan out this review I find it difficult to mention anything about any of the character’s beside their personalities and the actors who play them in fear of accidentally revealing one of the many twists and turns that unravel over the course of this 2.5 hour film. In what might be a drawn out, inconsistently toned movie for some, Gone Girl, for others, is an exceptional film with great performances that keeps you guessing up until the very end.
David Fincher, in his signature gloomy and dark style, adapts the best-selling novel from Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay), and gives us a film about how appearances can and will be deceiving. Without giving too much away, the film opens with Ben Affleck’s character, Nick Dunne, realizing his wife, Amy, played by Rosamund Pike, has disappeared. Once the police get involved, all fingers appear to point at Nick. Part of you wants to believe that he didn’t murder her, but part of you also thinks he is the culprit. Overlapping these initial moments in the film are scenes of how Nick and Amy met. They were struck by passion and love, and about 7 years later she is gone. I really can’t go on past this point because the twists in this movie will leave you shocked and astounded.
Across the board, all of the performances in the film are great. Ben Affleck succeeds admirably as a character who has either gotten away with murder, or simply just is the suspect of a crime he didn’t commit. His character does things that make you think he didn’t do it, yet all evidence shows the contrary. He is not a wholly likable character, some of his actions make him more of a detestable person rather than a caring husband. In what is assuredly his best performance in years also is a reminder that he is coming back with a vengeance after years of not-so-great films. Rosamund Pike, however, is the true standout in the film. Her haunting and accusatory narration of her diary helps all but accuse Nick of the deed. Her voice carries us through the film as if it were some fiendish nightmare that we wish we could wake up from. When we see her in flashbacks she is scintillating and relatable, and her chemistry with Affleck really helps add another layer to the tragedy that befalls once she disappears.
The supporting cast is also fantastic. Tyler Perry (who normally does not find himself outside of the movies he creates himself) is brilliant as the lawyer, Tanner Bolt, who takes on Nick’s case. He is essentially a play on Johnny Cochran, the lawyer who helped defend O.J. Simpson, who brings along a dose of humor and lightheartedness to the already dreary and bleak film. Let’s hope he takes more of these serious roles. Also in the cast is Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) as Nick’s twin sister. She is the voice of reason, the one Nick confides in, and the one who is always there for him. Most interestingly though is the casting of Neil Patrick Harris as the ex-boyfriend of Amy. He is rich, handsome, and still pining for Amy even though their relationship ended long before. Nonetheless he also brings in a creepiness that, at times, makes one consider him a suspect too.
One cannot see a Fincher movie now without being unnerved by Trent Reznor’s consistently fantastic scores. His compositions get underneath your skin, much like the film itself, and constantly create a feeling of unease. Match this up with with cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s dark and dreary images and the result is the bitter and haunting tone that many of Fincher’s movies share.
As I said earlier, some people might find the film too long. Considering the fact that Flynn adapted the novel to screenplay herself, she tried her hardest to get all of the important points into the film while also keeping it fresh for the people who have read the novel (I am not one of those people). I was vastly entertained all the way through, always trying to figure out what would happen next and my predictions throughout were always trumped by her amazing writing. It did drag for a bit around the 3/4 mark, but that didn’t stop it from keeping me on the edge of my seat.
In the end, Gone Girl is a movie about deceiving appearances, wearing masks to hide our true-selves, and never quite knowing what is going on inside the heads of people you know and love. With superb performances, a haunting score, and Fincher’s signature style, Gone Girl is a tense and tantalizing film that drops you down into a twisting maze, one that you want to be stuck in and one you will find yourself still in even after the movie is over. Go check it out.