Movie Review: "Gone Girl"
David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” is a taut thriller about the deception of love. This twisted tale is oversexed and bold, well-acted and intelligently-written to boot.
In cinema, kidnapped women are usually presented as damsels in distress. In contrast, this cinematic version written by Gillian Flynn, the original novel’s author, portrays that damsel as empowered, sexy and vindictive.
Rosamund Pike (“Jack Reacher”) plays “Amazing” Amy Elliott, a writer in a tumultuous marriage with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck, “Argo”). Pike harnesses the role of Amy, making the viewer strangely sympathize with the actions of her flawed character.
One morning, Amy goes missing from the Dunnes’ household in North Carthage, Missouri. A mysterious crime scene at the Dunne home leads to speculation of Nick as a prime suspect.
Amy is presumed kidnapped or murdered, and the search for her consumes the town and the eye of the media. A fictitious TV program that parodies Nancy Grace causes the nation to question Nick’s every move. The media slant incorporated into the film brings realism to the story and often provides comic relief.
Scenes of Amy writing in her diary coupled with monologue serve as revealing flashbacks, coming to life to showcase various stages in her relationship with Nick. Although these scenes become increasingly repetitive and explicit in their depictions of sex, their details come into play later on in the odyssey of Nick and Amy.
As the film progresses, more light is shed on the cryptic motives of the two protagonists. Shifting perspectives show the underlying circumstances of the kidnapping and how Nick is coping with Amy’s disappearance. The plot is complicated but compelling. The film’s original spin on the “girl gone missing” tale captivates the viewers and engages them to investigate what truly happened.
The cast is top-notch. Affleck gives a strong performance as a morally conflicted husband who asks his wife in the opening monologue, “What are you thinking? What have we done to each other?” He has surprisingly great chemistry with Tyler Perry (“A Madea Christmas”), who plays Tanner Bolt, Nick’s attorney. Other familiar faces include Neil Patrick Harris (“A Million Ways to Die in the West”), who plays Desi Collings, Amy’s ex-boyfriend.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score builds suspense and intrigue. Their arrangement sounds like dark, ambient music that maintains a sense of eeriness throughout the film. Reznor and Ross are witty in their song choices. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” plays as Nick, accused of murdering his wife, drives his father to an assisted living home.
The film’s somber lighting, reminiscent of Fincher’s past work, complements the story’s mystery. Even in scenes with natural light, there seems to be barely enough. Light is skillfully used, most notably in a scene in which a constellation of light from the paparazzi shrouds Nick. This artistic choice comes at a time when Nick’s sister confronts him regarding the disappearance of Amy.
“Gone Girl” is an edgy, exceptional addition to the Fincher canon, which includes the crime-thriller “Seven” and the cult classic “Fight Club.” The film is unpredictable and daring. For fans of Flynn’s novel, the film will hopefully do the book justice.
“Gone Girl” (R, 149 min.) is now playing in D.C. theaters.