Gone Girl – Delicious Junk Food For Your Soul – Review

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Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Gone Girl reminded me why I never read books before they are turned into movies. Thanks to my stubbornness (and laziness) I had the pleasure of being shocked and awed by every twist and surprise in this film, so don’t let anyone tell you anything about this movie before you go see it (I am the exception to that advice, because I am not going to tell you anything here to ruin the experience.  I am on your side).

Ben Affleck stars as Nick – a husband who should be celebrating his 5th wedding anniversary with his gorgeous wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike).  However, what appears to be a match made in heaven has deteriorated into hell.  The marriage is on the rocks in the worst way possible, and when Nick returns home after getting out of the house to clear his head, he finds a crime scene.

Amy is gone, and it appears a massive struggle has taken place.  The local police, led by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), want to get to the bottom of it, and, as they probe deeper and deeper into the crime scene and Nick’s story, much of it doesn’t add up.

Was Amy kidnapped?

Did Nick kill her?

Gone Girl is a movie full of one jaw dropping revelation after another, and director David Fincher makes the crazy plot come off as smooth and taut as any Oscar winner, despite the story having the melodramatic DNA of a Daytime Emmy nominee starring Susan Lucci.  It might be outrageous, but it is so much evil fun you eat it up.  It’s like junk food for your soul.

It all starts with an insane story, delicious characters and a fantastic script from writer Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the book this is all based upon.  Flynn gives us a whopper of a tale going in directions you can’t predict (don’t even try telling me you saw some of this coming), yet, each new path feels so perfect no matter how unfathomable and overwrought.  The audience is ready to suspend any disbelief needed and gobble up any tasty nugget of sleaze presented by Flynn because it fits in with the nature of the characters on the screen.

Affleck and Pike have walked into some of the best roles of their careers, and meet the challenge with aplomb.  Nick and Amy both are equal parts lovable and detestable, which Affleck and Pike seem to relish in.

Affleck is perfect as the highly suspicious guy we want to believe and like, but, as we learn more and more about Nick, our emotions are thrown all over the place.  Flynn and Affleck play a bit of emotional ping pong with the audience as Nick goes from good guy to bad guy to good guy and back again too many times to count, with Affleck always leaving the audience wondering what is going on in this character’s skull with a sheepish grin here or frightened glance there.  It’s a marvelous complication with nuance.

Even Tyler Perry is hilarious as the defense attorney who voices the audience’s feelings about the shenanigans we are witnessing on screen in a bit of comic relief, while Dickens adds some life to her stereotypical small town investigator full of rural wisdom.  She avoids letting Detective Boney become Matlock, and, for that, she deserves more praise than you can imagine.

The entire cast can thank Flynn’s script for the fun.  Kind of dark, sometimes oddly comical, and always peppered with withering assessments by the characters of the circus playing out around them, Gone Girl becomes exactly what we expect a story like this to become in modern day if it actually unfolded on our television screens.

Those extra details, like the reactions of local townsfolk, the curiosity and fame seekers who emerge from the wood work, the histrionics of cable television news coverage of the spectacle and the strain on relationships with every new clue add to the landscape, but Fincher never allows the background to overwhelm what really matters, which is the story developing before our eyes.  He never lets the audience get distracted from the mental sleuthing we have going on in our minds.

Flynn and Fincher only fail once to give us a shocking, massive plot twist with enough explanation to make it feel right, but it was a shocking, massive plot twist towards the end.  Gone Girl doesn’t need to be wrapped up with a pretty little bow to be perfect, but this left me hanging a bit too much.  If I didn’t know better, one could argue it was to set us up for a sequel.

3_5waffles_sml3 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)                

Gone Girl is rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.

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1 Comment

  • empresstrudy

    Do you ever get the sense that any Ben Affleck movie is just the warmup and the excuse to have to be subjected to Ben Affleck angrily and earnestly pontificating about some unrelated thing during the promotional campaign FOR the movie?