Gone Girl (2014)

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne Gone Girl, a tense drama-mystery film directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club), and adapted from the book of the same name by author Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote the screenplay. Strong narrative elements, deliberate pacing, and emotional situations enhance this story of a couple experiencing some marital woes as they approach their fifth wedding anniversary. Many secrets come to light as the plot timeline jumps among past events.

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When Amy goes missing (hence, the film’s title), the nationwide media and missing person scenarios take the forefront as Nick seemingly unravels against the pressure to expose the truth. Fincher could have easily overused to the missing person elements. His subtle touches work well as he gives audiences the necessary information to further Nick and Amy’s character development.

For example, a quick scene where several searchers comb the land for Amy focuses on one exhausted worker who dumps water over his head for relief. Audience members can sense some rare hope here, but can also substitute themselves in that situation, while questioning what’s happening beneath the surface.

Poignant moments like this one create an important contrast against characters who make tragic, selfish decisions. Their intentions and thoughts get deserved focus immediately and begin the film with Kevin’s narrative thought about his wife’s thoughts and marriage in general.

Filmmakers delve into Nick and Amy’s background as audiences slowly discover their motives. The most notable device used to revel these motives is Nick’s relationship with his sister Margo, well played by Carrie Coon. Their frequent talks give audiences a constant stream of plot-progressing information without revealing too much.

The acting talent on the emotional side is huge among the leads and the overall casting is perfect. Pike (Jack Reacher, Die Another Day) rises to the task of being the film’s focus while Affleck withstands some shockingly emotional situations without unraveling or coming across forced to audiences. Most importantly, their realistic performances expose the sad truths of human nature, selfish desires, and tragic actions that ruin lives.

The supporting cast includes Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney, Patrick Fugit as Officer Jim Gilpin, Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collings, Casey Wilson as Noelle, and Emily Ratajkowski as Andie. Missi Pyle (The Artist, Bringing Down the House) and Sela Ward (The Fugitive, TV’s Sisters, CSI: NY) appear as high profile media figures.

The plot has some thrills and audiences definitely get fair warning before the most violent sequences leaving audiences pondering the inner thoughts and motives behind these harrowing actions. The bleak, tragic drama envelopes the film here with a few light moments with lawyer Tanner Bolt played by a well-cast Tyler Perry. Perry brings considerable intelligence to the plot, but it’s impossible to escape his main relief functions where filmmakers prompt audiences ‘it’s OK to laugh when he’s on screen.’

The plot does not stray from several unlikable characters. The musical score by frequent Fincher collaborator Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross adds emotion and menace to the stark proceedings. The editing expertly sets the pace as Fincher incorporates quick cuts and dim lighting that match the realistic tone and depressing subject matter.

Author Flynn and filmmakers wisely omit some elements from the book (e.g. one element involving anti-freeze) while missing the chance to delve into other important elements like Nick’s father. Audiences might need to exert some effort to understand him, but thankfully get some needed insight from Margo during one of her tense talks with Nick.

The biggest element filmmakers fail to address involves an alleged murder weapon, especially the lack of closure, and logic, at the end of the film. Again, audiences need some effort for this explanation.

A few other logical snafus are seemingly made on purpose to enhance the drama. For example, one character cleans up in the shower after coming home from a hospital where this character most certainly would have been immediately cleaned.

Filmmakers always present the story faithfully without manipulating the audience, which challenges audiences to digest this harrowing tale filled with societal touchstones and easily relatable life events. Filmmakers also enhance the film with additional scenes not included in Flynn’s book including one involving a proposal. This scene adds additional elements of charm, hope, and martial archetypes.

The 149-minute drama comes recommended and rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.Pike, Fincher, the screenplay, and musical score garnering award nominations though Affleck deserves considerable credit for anchoring the film. Reese Witherspoon co-produced the film and was considered for the role of Amy.

© Michael Siebenaler

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