On the surface, Gone Girl appears to be nothing more than a trashy mystery. But, under the pretext of a thriller, both director David Fincher and author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn have created a complex noir like film; a dark, twisted venomous satire about marriage, childhood trauma, parents, illusions and the media. It brings to mind questions like, do you really know your spouse? Do married couples deceive each other? Deceive themselves? Do they deceive neighbors, friends and co-workers? Does anyone really know anyone? Is life a façade? Is love a fantasy that fades when life takes unexpected turns? For Nick and Amy Dunne the answer is yes.
Gone Girl is a two and a half hour magic trick. The filmmakers keep you off kilter throughout. Who’s good? Who’s bad? Who do you trust or believe? These questions all contribute to the film’s dark sense of direction and misdirection.
It’s what happens when a “perfect” man meets the “perfect” woman, fall in love, marry, and live happily for a couple of years in New York City. They’re both stunning looking, smart, witty and sexually hot for each other. Life looks great. Then things turn bad. Both lose their jobs. They move to Nick’s small hometown in Missouri to take care of his dying mother. Amy uses her trust fund money so Nick can buy a small local bar. Dreams die, years pass. Love has gone bad. On their fifth anniversary suddenly…Amy’s gone.
When a wife disappears and foul play is suspected, the husband is always, what do they say, “a person of interest.” Nick reactions to the police and the media are not quite right. His answers to the police and TV cameras are glib, making everyone think he’s guilty, or at least asking, does he really care. We also hear from Amy, via her diary, that their fairytale marriage was closer to a nightmare.
I won’t go into any further details for fear of spoiling the delicious and devilish fun for those who have yet to see it. Let’s leave it at this, the twist and turns have only begun.
Fincher, no stranger to dark and complex stories (Zodiac, The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo) and like much of his earlier work, this film is a cold yet sublime piece of filmmaking. It fits smoothly in line with his previous work. There is little horrific violence, only one scene, which makes it even more of jolt when it happens.
The casting helps tremendously. If you need someone to play affable, yet shallow and superficial, Ben Affleck is your man. Rosamund Pike makes for a perfect Amy, a wounded woman whose childhood has been high-jacked and used by her mother, a children’s book author. The supporting cast of Carrie Coon as Nick’s gummy bear tossing sister, Tyler Perry as Nick’s high price lawyer (“Elvis is in Missouri”) and Missi Pyle as a shark eating, think Nancy Grace, TV host all add nice touches of colors to the film’s palette. Finally, there is Neil Patrick Harris as one of Amy’s previous lovers who is still obsessed with her. It’s a creepy side of the Doogie Howser, M.D./How I Met You Mother star that we have never seen.