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Gone Girl—Movie Review

Gone Girl-Rosamund Pike-Ben AflleckIt’s been a
while since a movie based on a best-selling novel that isn’t aimed at young
adults caused such a stir. Gone Girl is
a rarity: a mainstream, studio-backed feature aimed at grownups that doesn’t
dilute its harsh source material in any way. In fact, Gone Girl was adapted by its author, Gillian Flynn, who found a
perfect collaborator in director David Fincher and an equally perfect cast to
bring it to life onscreen.

Not having
read the book, I had no idea of what was coming at any point in this riveting
thriller (unlike my wife, who remembered all the story twists but still enjoyed
the film). For the sake of others like me, I won’t divulge any spoilers.
Suffice it to say that Ben Affleck plays a callow guy named Nick who should be
celebrating his fifth wedding anniversary with his beautiful wife Amy (Rosamund
Pike), but discovers instead that she has disappeared, under mysterious
circumstances. What’s more, all indications point to him as the leading suspect
in the case.

As the
mystery unfolds, Flynn reveals layers and nuances in the backstory of the
seemingly perfect couple. They meet in New York City and wind up in his
hometown in Missouri, caring for his dying mother. She’s a fish out of water
there, but he takes comfort in the company of his twin sister (Carrie Coon),
who operates a local bar.

Fincher and
Flynn cast a keen eye on the hypocrisies of modern society: the rush to
judgment by tabloid media, the way a community (and even local police) can be
manipulated, in a series of falling dominoes that have become all too familiar,
and how a man who is far from innocent—yet not guilty of murder or
abduction—fights to save his reputation, his sanity, and his freedom.

Fincher has
cast his movie with great skill, using little-known actors as well as
recognizable faces in supporting roles. Perhaps his greatest coup was choosing
Tyler Perry to play a high-profile, take-no-prisoners lawyer who agrees to
defend Affleck. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job in this juicy
role.

That can also
be said of the two leads. Affleck is in his element here, playing an “ordinary
guy” who gets in over his head. Pike is being celebrated as the year’s major
discovery, but she’s been doing fine work in films over the past decade, from Pride and Prejudice to the little-seen Barney’s Version and last month’s Hector and the Search for Happiness. Because
of her beauty she’s endured her share of superficial roles, but Gone Girl shows her considerable range.

Gone Girl is an unrelentingly tough
movie, from the first moment to the last. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus
Ross (who did Fincher’s last two films as well) is appropriately dissonant and
tremendously effective. This isn’t a fun night at the movies, but it’s superior
storytelling from a highly talented filmmaker. 

5 comments

  1. Paul says:

    I often find Leonard Maltin’s reviews to be accurate assesments on a movies merits or shortcomings, but I think with Gone Girl he has gone off the rails. The first 15 minutes of the movie are indeed intriguing as it looks like a film adaptation of the Scott Peterson Story. Ben Affleck does a great job of setting up the story of a pathological liar and his possible hand in murdering his wife. The rest of the movie just drives itself into sub plots and interactions that don’t work and fail to connect with the viewer. Once again we witness the brilliant psychopath putting together a scheme that is executed to perfection and nothing is what we imagined it to be. I’m supposed to be shocked at the outcome. it didn’t happen. Instead i gave up on what started as an interesting dramatization of a terrible tragedy. Bad Review Mr. Maltin.

  2. jay says:

    I agree with you, Ian! I found even more things
    implausible and the character’s actions psychlogically often not
    comprehensable. Maybe the story would have worked better as a satire or comedy like in "The War Of The Roses". And where was the focus on? It was a muddled mixture of BASIC INSTINCT meeting THE GAME meeting FATAL ATTRACTION. Whose story was told anyway? At the beginning we hear her off-voice, later it becomes his story, and towards the end it seems like the tedious attempt to warn us all and provide us from marrying. 😉 The good actors and saved it somehow, this overlong movie. To speak with Leo: a weak **1/2.

  3. Ian Horner, Sydney says:

    It’s a good movie; clever, well-acted, inventive. But not as brilliant as it thinks it is. Affleck’s character is truly frustrating, and there’s no reason given why his five-year marriage turns sour so suddenly… other than to set the net for the coming thrill ride.

  4. A Time to Cry says:

    Just more materials wasted as people die of starvation or a lack of resources around the world.

    Cry. Lol.

  5. LILLIAN says:

    I had read the book and they did a brilliant job bringing it to the screen. The best thing was that at
    the packed Landmark, the crowd ranged in age from
    the 20s on up to the 80s- and they all enjoyed it!

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