Author Gillian Flynn should be thanking her lucky stars because her novel Gone Girl has come to the big screen with the perfect person at the helm, director David Fincher. The story that had so many fans wondering how it could be a movie should be beyond thrilled with what Fincher has given audiences in a taut, thrilling and jaw-dropping movie moment that will keep you guessing until the final credits roll.
Then, when Gone Girl is over, don’t be surprised to be stuck in your seat, unable to move because of the cinematic power that has just been witnessed.
As teased in the Gone Girl trailer, Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne and UK actress Rosamund Pike is his wife, Amy Dunne. Fincher tells his story with a back and forth flashback method that chronicles the span of Nick and Amy's relationship that provides what could be a run-of-the-mill, he-said, she-said story with a unique power and presence.
Affleck returns to his Missouri home on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary and discovers that items in the living room have been trashed and Amy is missing. Worried, he calls the cops and a couple of local detectives (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) show up and discover a bit of blood on a kitchen cabinet and immediately swing into action to find Amy before the worst can happen.
Dickens plays her investigator as someone willing to give Nick the benefit of the doubt, while Fugit believes from the get-go that the husband is responsible. After all, it usually is the husband responsible, right?
Fincher then launches his film into a who-done-it type mystery when all along we don’t even know if Amy is dead, or frankly where she is if she is indeed alive. The national media gets involved as a Nancy Grace-type anchor has viewers and the nation believing that Nick has killed his wife. And that aspect is a true “this is America in 2014” moment that has many of us wishing that part of our society would change or simply just go away.
Amy's parents (they are a piece of work all their own) do nothing to quiet the national opinion. Meanwhile, a tornado of questions, few answers and elements that only deepen the mystery all swarm into a firestorm of movie power that reminds us why we adore the medium in the first place.
Affleck is absolutely incredible in Gone Girl. He plays Nick with a perfect pitch of clueless soul meets man who the audience is led to believe could be capable of such a crime. He has an utter mastery of his craft and frankly gives the performance of his career. Without giving away absolutely anything, the look on his face when the final shot of the movie is shown reflects those who are watching him in the audience. Our look is his gaze. And that is a look of utter shock and awe at the dramatic dynamo that we’ve just seen from Fincher.
The movie largely rides on the shoulders of Pike. Without her nuanced performance that runs a grand gamut of emotions, Fincher’s film does not work. She is a revelation on so many levels, and if Gone Girl does not make her a superstar, it is a crime far worse than what allegedly happens to her character on the screen.
We also have to point out that Tyler Perry is a hurricane of awesomeness. His performance as a nationally known defense attorney who comes to the aid of Nick is nothing short of brilliant and by far the best we've ever seen from him.
And then there’s the true star of Gone Girl -- director Fincher. No one but the man behind such films as Se7en, Fight Club and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could give us such a dark, foreboding and frenzied film that does numerous things masterfully.
Our Gone Girl review points out that Fincher puts up a mirror to our society currently and its obsession with sensationalized murder cases where network anchors act as judge and jury. He also has crafted a film that keeps you guessing, and even when all is revealed, you will still find yourself questioning everything you think you know.
That is a true gift for a moviegoer as there are too few films out there in the marketplace that allow its audience to truly be invested in the story, feel for the characters and have its resonance carry out with you long after you leave the theater.