The national spotlight is turned to a small town in Missouri when a man’s wife goes missing under curious circumstances.
Writer: Gillian Flynn (Screenplay & Novel)
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry
Run time/Rating: 149 Minutes/ R
Popcorn Score: Large Popcorn with Butter
Wow! As the credits rolled my feelings resembled the sensation of passing through the last set of hydraulic breaks and finally coming to a stop in the exact same place where I took off. After peaks and dives, twists and turns I was not sure if I just arrived back from the most exhilarating roller coaster or went in blind, threw my hands up in the air experienced Gone Girl. This gem of the year, based after the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn accomplishes all of its objectives on every level and guarantees to entertain.
The complete plot leads and misleads the viewer through a collection of smaller segments, most of which if given some additional detail could be taken as individual complete stories and make up better movies than most these days. However when put all together you get interesting and engaging pieces to a complete part that never allow you to take a breath. I had read the first, 30-40 pages of the book about a year ago. I’m not sure what made me put it down at that time as I remember being immediately engaged, but also didn’t get far enough to really learn anything. I will leave most of the pieces to the plot out of this review as I found the movie most exhilarating knowing little more than a husband’s wife suddenly disappears from their home on the morning of their 5 year anniversary.
The husband, Nick Dunne, played of course by Ben Affleck, and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) moved from New York to Missouri a few years back to look after Nick’s now diseased mother. They are writers at different stages in their career both of which have been stalled and or sidetracked by their move to the Midwest. The couple has their issues, as made aware by the conversation Nick has with his trusted twin sister “Go” at the onset of the film in their new bar, and from passages of Amy’s diary, which are read as voiceovers by the character gone missing. The potential homicide is the main focus of the detective team from the start based on what they know and what we, as an audience, are given. Questions are constantly surfacing with every new bit of information as the roller costar continues to lift and drop and dart to new areas of unforeseen track.
Way more than just an entertaining thrill ride, it is a smart movie. It took adaptation by Flynn of her own meticulously weaved novel to precisely cut the most important pieces of the puzzle and assure in the end they all fit snugly. Along with director David Fincher who uses a wide frame with long, smooth shots he contrasts the intensity of the plot all while making sure the film stays on the edge and one step ahead of the audience throughout. At a minute shy of 2 ½ hours, the length of the movie could be a concern but there is simply never the letdown which allows you to check the time. Additionally, there are a couple of loopholes which after looking back could derail the cart at times but none of which are too obvious or frustrating to leave the audience stalled dangling at the metaphorical peak of roller costar drop.
All of this brilliance couldn’tbe had without spectacular performances, highlighted by Rosemond Pike. She takes this role with all that it demands, none of which I will mention, and absolutely excels in all of its intricacies. Supporting characters were brought to life by Kim Dickens(Thank You For Smoking) and Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Wrist Cutters) as the main detectives on the case, Neil Patrick Harris as one of Amy’s former lovers, and Tyler Perry, sporting a business suit rather than Madea pajamas as America’s hot shot defense attorney, Tanner Bolt. If the movie were to be described as a dark comedy, which is a description I would validate, all of the actors played to that part of the ride perfectly as well. Of course this brings us to Ben Affleck. I have thought his acting to be a bit bland at best in the past. I came to the conclusion that in his most recent performance in Runner Runner it was official, he no longer cared about acting. And of course there is Gigli. But he has passed the statute of limitations for his early 2000’s role choices so it is no longer fair to judge him on those. He has since, of course, both directed and played parts in movies that I have really enjoyed (State of Play, The Town, Argo). And we’ll see how he does behind the mask of Gotham in 2016. He was solid as the not so distressed, possibly widowed, possibly murderous husband. Playing the role as written, he was able to downplay many of the emotions that most would attribute to a grieving husband and for that reason and an otherwise screen commanding ability; Affleck was the ideal person for the role.
Run out to the theater to see this movie. Watch it with the large audiences that will be around for the next few weeks so you can feel the pressure mount in the room, experience the release together during the more than occasional comedic relief. My only hope for Gone Girl is that come award time, this entertaining and windy thriller is recognized as the smart, perfectly executed film that it is and receives some nominations at the least for Best Screenplay, Directing, Actress and Film.
Large Popcorn with Butter.