Synopsis: Gone Girl – directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?
Release Date: October 3, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Much like with the best selling novel on which the film is based, it’s hard to talk about Gone Girl without getting deep into the plot. However, since a lot Gone Girl‘s appeals rest with its many twists and turns, it’s important to preserve as much of the mystery as possible. And so, without even getting into what works and what doesn’t work about the film, know that there is a tremendous framing device to Gone Girl that is well worth the price of admission. Fans of overtly trashy mysteries will especially love the way the film revels in its soap opera nature, and lap up everything director David Fincher & Co. have to offer. Those with a slightly more discerning eye, however, may come away disappointed.
Tonally, Gone Girl charts all over the map, and it is in that regard that the film feels most disappointing. The plot, which centers on whether or not Nick Dunne (Runner Runner‘s Ben Affleck) did or did not kill his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike from Jack Reacher), never locks into a specific message. It wafts between painting Affleck’s character as the bad guy, then as the good guy, and then back again. All the while we’re getting details from Amy’s diary as to who Nick is and isn’t as a person. That conflicting nature is by design, and in some respects it works, but the film’s inability to make a stand diminishes the impact. Gone Girl washes over you without effect. It begins, it’s intriguing, it’s dark, it’s disturbing, and then it’s over. And never once did it feel like the film had anything significant to say.
Don’t misunderstand – the film is plenty engaging as entertainment. It’s fun to unravel the mystery and watch these exceptional performances play out on screen, but in the end the experience amounts to very little. This is a case where both the journey and the destination aren’t very fulfilling, even if many of the component parts put their best foot forward.
Gone Girl is a well acted, crafted, and directed piece of cinema, but its story never achieves a similar level of polish. It has its moments, sure, but in the end it’s more a mindless distraction than anything else. The film feeds so much to the audience that you feel like the impact should be clear, and yet it isn’t. Like Amy, Gone Girl has far too many tricks up its sleeve and plays them too fast and too loose. It wants to be too many things, and as a result flounders under expectation. Enjoyable? Yes. Memorable? No.
If there is one area that Gone Girl is seemingly without fault it’s the cast. Fincher is known for being a demanding director, and here that strenuous work has paid off. You need strong performances for a story like Gone Girl to work, and in that endeavor the film succeeds. Across the board, the acting in the film is high caliber, from Affleck’s performance as the disaffected Nick to Rosamund Pike’s sociopathic turn as Amy. Because of the material, Affleck and Pike are asked to mix nuance with camp while still keeping things grounded, and they execute on that goal perfectly. Even Tyler Perry shines as Nick’s lawyer, which is a surprise in itself. But Pike truly is the standout here, showcasing tremendous range as Amy.
David Fincher has perfected the art of making a David Fincher movie. He knows how to get stellar performances out of every member of his cast and his eye for cinematic detail is second to none. Gone Girl is a polished flick that has all of the Fincher touches, from brilliant production design, to slick cinematography, and some truly smart stylistic choices. Even the framing device is clever, which is as much a nod to Fincher’s craftsmanship as Gillian Flynn’s script. That being said, a few edits here or there for length purposes, and a better tonal understanding of the material might have helped push this film into better-than-good territory.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): David Fincher
- Screenwriter(s): Gillian Flynn
- Cast: Ben Affleck (Nick Dunne)Rosamund Pike (Amy Dunne)Neil Patrick Harris (Desi Collings) Tyler Perry (Tanner Bolt)Carrie Coon (Margo Dunne)Kim Dickens (Detective Rhonda Boney)Patrick Fuget (Officer Jim Gilpin)Lisa Banes (Marybeth Elliott)Missi Pyle (Ellen Abbott)Emily Ratajkowski (Andie Fitzgerald)
- Editor(s): Kirk Baxter
- Cinematographer: Jeff Cronenweth
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Trent Reznor
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA