by: S. Scott Stanikmas
How well do we really know the people that we share our lives with? David Fincher’s newest directorial effort Gone Girl shows us that no matter how well we think we know someone there may be something under the surface that we never even considered was there.
After five years of marriage, Nick and Amy Dunne have hit a rut. It’s clear by Nick’s attitude on the morning of their fifth anniversary that the honeymoon is over. But Nick may not have to deal with that for much longer. After being called home by a watchful neighbor Nick finds signs of a struggle and no signs of where his wife is. The police quickly become involved as does the whole town in the search for Amy.
Soon Nick’s life is put under the microscope. Every action is questioned. Every word is scrutinized. And as the hours slowly turn into days, evidence slowly begins to pile up. With the present day investigation interspersed with scenes from happier times turning increasingly dour, all signs point to Nick having something to do with his wife not being anywhere to be found. As Nick’s indiscretions worm their way to the surface of his life, he starts losing control of what’s happening until even his own sister starts to question whether or not he had something to do with Amy’s disappearance.
David Fincher once again shows why he is considered by many to be a master of his craft. Gone Girl was a movie that has received much hype as of late – and its hype is well deserved. Fincher amps up the tension, slowly peeling back layers of the Nick Dunne character until the man you thought you knew is no longer standing there. Then, just as you begin to judge him, the film takes a complete 180 degree turn and questions everything that you just saw. Nick is still a completely detestable human being, but is he the only one we should be pointing our collective fingers at?
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as Nick and Amy Dunne absolutely blew me away. As the narrative alternates between Nick’s life crumbling around him and Amy’s diary entries of a life slipping away from her, both actors command your attention (and allegiance). Affleck’s “Aw, shucks” down home demeanor is undermined by his seeming indifference to his wife’s plight. And Pike is a gem, showing a sly hint of madness while holding a crowd in the palm of her hand. If she’s not at least nominated for an Oscar for her performance that will be a true crime.
This movie would not have shone as bright as it did without its supporting cast. Foremost is Carrie Coon as Margo “Go” Dunne, Nick’s twin sister. Always quick with a quip and brutally honest with her brother, Go was my favorite character of the entire experience. Neil Patrick Harris as former beau Desi Collings does more with facial expressions than most actors do with entire monologues. The lead detectives played by Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit keep things light and airy until it’s time to bring the hammer down on an unsuspecting Nick. And Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt, celebrity lawyer to the scumbags of America, was surprisingly almost perfect. Witty and tough, Perry is a bulldog in a thousand dollar suit. Take him out of drag and that man can act.
Allowing author Gillian Flynn to write the screenplay was the right choice. Most people love to argue about which was better, the book or the movie. In this instance both were very good. Removing certain points and switching around scenarios for other characters was a necessary evil, and one that resulted in a tighter narrative with dialogue as sharp a box cutter.
The soundtrack was a definite hit or miss point. While subtly adding mood at some points there were other times where the score seemed overbearing, almost taking away the focus from the actors onscreen.
Gone Girl is a smart and taut thriller that creeps its way into your mind and stays with you long after the final credits have rolled. A must see movie and another notch in the proverbial belt of David Fincher.