Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 29 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for a Scene of Bloody Violence, some Strong Sexual Content/Nudity, and Language
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Gillian Flynn
(based on the novel GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Casey Wilson & Missi Pyle
Since 2014 began, I was looking forward to GONE GIRL. This was one of the most anticipated films that I’d been waiting all year to see and I’m so glad to say that it didn’t disappoint. David Fincher is one of the best directors working today and continues to excel at telling dark stories with this diabolical thriller. It should be said right out of the gate that GONE GIRL is probably not the most ideal first date movie. The film is a complex piece of work that covers a variety of timely topics in a twisted story about a marriage gone very wrong.
On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne comes home from visiting his sister to find that his wife, Amy, has disappeared. There are signs of a struggle and the police are called. Though Nick is cooperating with the police and putting on the appearance of a good guy, there seems to be something off about him. It’s not too long before its revealed to the viewer that the situation isn’t quite as clear-cut as it seems. It would be sugar-coating things to say that Nick and Amy’s marriage was dysfunctional. Events arise, things get more complicated, and if anyone dares try to spoil this movie for you, punch them in the face!
David Fincher has previously turned well-known novels into A+-worthy films (FIGHT CLUB, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO). It’s no easy feat, but Fincher does it yet again with GONE GIRL. Besides the man’s knack for directing awesome movies, it probably helps that the author of this source material has penned the screenplay for this adaptation. She knows precisely how the characters should behave and in what way certain plot developments should be given to the audience. The less said about the story itself, the better. You’ll be captivated if you go in knowing the general gist of the plot, but nothing else…unless you’re a fan of the book and then you’ll love it as well. GONE GIRL is a thriller that never goes in the direction you expect it to.
Every actor in every single role (no matter how minor or large) nails their part perfectly. Ben Affleck (as questionable a Batman as he may wind up being) encapsulates Nick Dunne as a mysterious puzzle that the audience is dared to solve before the end credits roll. Rosamund Pike as Amy (seen in flashbacks) gets across the nervous wreck that this woman becomes due to many different problems caused by their crumbling relationship and the effects of a bad economy on a marriage before her ultimate disappearance. Neil Patrick Harris is suitably creepy as Amy’s ex-boyfriend/possible suspect. Of all people, Tyler Perry knocks it out of the park as a lawyer! Missi Pyle puts on her best Nancy Grace impression as a cable news host. Finally, there’s the relatively new Carrie Coon as Nick’s concerned twin sister. She was an unfamiliar face who put in a convincing performance and garners a lot of emotion from the viewer in her direction.
Besides the phenomenal story and the great acting, GONE GIRL also has a sense of unease that lasts from the opening until the closing credits have begun to roll. The ending almost plays out longer than it should (in the same sense that GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO stretched its final minutes out), but it ultimately winds up paying off in spades. The final shot of the film is a haunting one that leaves you with a whole lot to ponder long after you’ve left the theater. This is an intelligent, compelling, intense piece of cinema that holds as a true product of our time too (there are plenty of news cases that resemble the one that this movie covers).
There’s not a doubt in my mind that GONE GIRL will wind up on my top 10 films of 2014. It might even be my favorite movie of the year. I’m going that far because the film is that phenomenal. It’s a thriller that I’ll revisit over and over again for a variety of reasons. There’s not a bad thing I can say about GONE GIRL and to dive into specifics would give away too many details about the plot. Just know this is a thriller that does precisely what it should (thrills you) and leaves you with a whole lot to think about afterwards.