Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gone Girl: Love, Marriage & Murder

As director David Fincher’s Gone Girl opens, Nick Dunne returns home one morning to find his wife Amy missing. There are signs of a struggle in their home, and he reports her disappearance to the police. As the search for Amy goes on, what is initially thought to be a kidnapping becomes a possible murder investigation. The case garners a huge amount of media coverage because Amy’s childhood was the inspiration for a popular series of children’s books authored by her parents, the Amazing Amy series. Much of the attention focuses on Nick, whose odd behavior during the investigation suggests he may be a sociopath and quite possibly, a murderer. Only Nick’s sister Margo stands by him as the threads of his story, and his claims of innocence, start to unravel.

Detective Rhonda Boney (played by Kim Dickens of Sons of Anarchy) digs deeper into the case. She finds evidence that the Dunnes’ marriage may not have been as happy as it seemed on the surface. Flashbacks (and narration by Nick & Amy) detail the problems that the couple was dealing with, including financial troubles, infidelity and domestic disputes. A diary discovered by the police indicates Amy was afraid her husband was going to do her harm. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in a story with more layers than a basket of onions, and more twists than a box of Twizzlers. The film will keep you guessing, and even when you figure out some of the plot, there’s still a surprise or two ahead.

Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel (scripted by the author) is a sharp thriller, with a great cast, led by Ben Affleck’s solid work as Nick and Rosamund Pike, who’s brilliant as Amy. There’s also a sterling supporting cast including Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, David Clennon and Carrie Coon as Margo. Fincher & his crew give the film a cold, noirish look that matches the story’s dark tones. The movie offers a somewhat cynical view of marriage & relationships; this is not a story of a good marriage, or a positive relationship. This is a tale with a somewhat cold & icy center. In the end, neither Nick nor Amy is a person we particularly like or root for, and we feel the most sympathy for Margo, and admire the savvy of Detective Boney, who knows there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

Some critics have described Gone Girl as an “anti-date” movie, and it certainly isn’t a romantic comedy, or life-affirming drama. But if you’re looking for an absorbing thriller with a good story & some memorable performances, the film is worth checking out. Fincher, who’s directed films as diverse as Seven, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network, does another fine job here. Gone Girl is finishing up its run in theaters, but a home video release should be announced soon. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer:

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