Movie Review: “Gone Girl” – Fincher’s Masterful Mystery

Written by Jesse Gelinas October 07, 2014

Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne in "Gone Girl"There’s always three sides to any story.

Some people just have a knack for larger-than-life stories. David Fincher has proven himself time and time again as a master filmmaker, specializing in these tales of grand characters and the lives they lead. Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel, “Gone Girl” is Fincher’s latest foray into the thriller genre, one he has basically written the book on with several of his classics (“Se7en” for one). This dark, menacing mystery is the perfect exemplar for Fincher’s talents behind the camera, and his ability to extract near-perfect performances from the stellar casts he puts together.

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne have seemingly the perfect fairytale marriage. They met at a party, sharing an interest in mocking social norms and exercising unnecessarily large vocabularies. Two years later, they’re married. Five years later, she’s gone. No trace, save for signs of struggle in the home, and blood in the kitchen. Nick is suddenly cast onto the national stage as he pleads with the public Now his biggest problem is his awkward personality, allowing the media to pick apart his odd reaction to his wife’s disappearance. With the town, and now the nation against him, Nick has very little time to piece together the mystery of what happened to his “gone girl” and why everything points so neatly to him.

“What are you thinking? What are you feeling?”

A great aspect of Flynn’s novel that is partially (but effectively) carried over to Fincher’s film is the audience can’t be certain if Nick is innocent for quite some time. And as things are revealed, each little twist yanks you in another unexpected direction. I do love when good authors adapt their own works. They usually know what to keep and what can go, and Flynn apparently went through her story with a scalpel, because this flick is tight tight tight. And that’s a hell of a feat for a movie clocking in at almost 2.5 hours. Not a moment is wasted; everything keeps the plot moving and develops the characters.

Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne in "Gone Girl"

“Gone Girl” moves and its partly thanks to the subtle, yet driving score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The music in every scene adds to the eerie atmosphere of the Missouri setting, and the ongoing feeling of mystery and suspense. Fincher and Reznor have worked together twice before (“The Social Network”, “The Gil With the Dragon Tattoo”), and it’s easy to call it one of the best director/composer collaborations in recent years.

“What have we done to each other? What will we do?”

“Gone Girl” is a fine production of a fine script, but its cast helps raise it to even higher levels. Almost everyone is perfectly cast, and brings their characters to life in this bleak world. Rosamund Pike asily steals the show, and will likely find acknowledgement come awards season. But I’d have to say the real surprise is Affleck. I’ve never been one to call the man a bad actor, but he definitely shows the makings of a great one here. Drawing I’m certain from personal experience, his character’s desperate and confused reactions to the national media out to nail him is authentic, and at times kind of heart-wrenching. All the promise that Affleck showed years ago with “Chasing Amy,” and more recently in “The Town” is being delivered in spades. The rest of the cast is perfectly balanced, and even each small character gives a noteworthy performance. Tyler Perry (I know) and Carrie Coons stand out among the rest of the supporting cast.

24-hour news cycle in "Gone Girl"

Overall, Fincher and Flynn have crafted a tight, menacing, psychological thriller with jut the right amount of mystery and cynicism thrown in. The cast kills it, the music is haunting, and the ending will leave you dragging your jaw along the floor until you’re out of the theater. Fincher seems on a tear these last few years, and “Gone Girl” is certainly deserving of the same praise and accolades his other works have received. It’s the kind of film you’ll want to see again immediately after finishing it, just to make sure you weren’t dreaming… or having a nightmare.

My Rating: 9/10

Theatrical poster for Gone Girl

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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