Based on the book by Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay), Gone Girl is directed by David Fincher, who is probably my favorite director working today. Almost every movie he’s directed has ended up as one of my favorite movies of the year. Zodiac, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Game, Fight Club, and Se7en are movies I can watch over and over again. Those movies are so well cast, the performances are all great, the stories are interesting, but my favorite element is hard to explain. It’s something about the look and atmosphere of those movies. Fincher just has such a great eye for cinema, and every shot looks great.
Anyway, enough about the director, let’s talk about this movie. Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, and Rosamund Pike plays his wife, Amy Elliott-Dunne. As the movie begins, Nick doesn’t look happy. He goes to the bar he owns with his twin sister and hangs out with her for a while. When he returns home, there are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy is missing.
As the police and volunteers start searching for Amy, we see flashbacks of how Nick and Amy fell in love. Their marriage seems almost too perfect for a while, then things start to bad. See, Amy’s from New York City but Nick is from Missouri. He’s living in New York when they meet and get married, but two things cause them to move back to Nick’s home town. First the recession hits and they both lose their jobs. Then Nick’s mother gets cancer and he wants to move home to take care of her.
As their story progresses, we see Nick and Amy grow further apart. She’s not happy living in this small town and he starts changing. In her eyes, he isn’t the same guy she married in New York. By using her diary as narration, we get a pretty good picture of a marriage falling apart. Add to that the fact that she’s rich, owns the bar he and his sister run, and Amy made Nick sign a prenuptial agreement.
The movie cuts back and forth between the history of their marriage and the current investigation into Amy’s disappearance. The movie does a great job of keeping us guessing. Nick may have snapped and killed his wife, or he may have had nothing to do with it. There are other surprises as the movie goes along, but the less you know about that, the better.
This is the best work Ben Affleck has done in a long time, but even better is the performance by Rosamund Pike. She’s been in quite a few movies, including Die Another Day, An Education, Jack Reacher, and The World’s End. But she didn’t really stand out in any of those. In Gone Girl, she gives a career making performance. There’s a lot to this character and she does a really good job. I wouldn’t be surprised if she got an Oscar nomination for this movie.
Besides the two leads, there were a lot of other really good performances. Carrie Coon plays Nick’s sister Margo, and she’s kind of the conscience of the movie. Neil Patrick Harris is an ex-boyfriend of Amy’s and he’s surprisingly creepy. Kim Dickens is the detective investigating Amy’s disappearance, and she was a lot of fun. I think my favorite scenes were when she was on screen. She’s a feisty woman with a southern accent, and she reminded me a lot of Holly Hunter’s detective character in Copycat. She’s always in control of a crime scene and ordering all the other cops around.
But the biggest surprise is probably Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt, the most famous and expensive lawyer in the country. Perry has already made a name for himself with his Madea movies. I haven’t seen very many of his movies, but he was really entertaining here.
This is a great movie. It’s a really interesting who-done-it crime drama, but it’s so much more than that. It’s satirizing the media and our obsession with reality TV. It’s commenting on post-recession America and how that affected people. It’s making a statement about the complexity of marriage. And as of early October, it’s the best movie of the year.