Gone Girl Review: A Nonreader’s Take

Photo Credit:http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20141001-is-gone-girl-any-good

Note: This review is from the perspective of someone that did not read the book. Look for our review from a reader’s perspective later this weekend.

It’s hard to review a film as nuanced and intricately plotted as Gone Girl without talking about spoilers. The film has us following Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) as he searches for his missing wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) while dodging evidence that points toward himself being a murderer.

But screenwriter Gillian Flynn, adapting her own novel, frequently changes what kind of story she’s telling. The twists come early and often, but always with enough room to catch our breath before the next one steals it again. Flynn’s tag-team with director David Fincher, proving once again here that he is easily one of the best in the business, seems tailor-made to take on such a tricky narrative.

The famous, or perhaps infamous, ending has been the talk of the press. But what develops on screen works as a cap to this disturbing, yet often quite funny movie. That’s right, Gone Girl is, in many ways, a very, very dark comedy. The hyperbole of Nick’s media attention and how he reacts to the camera is often giggle-inducing in the most cynical way possible.

Affleck really sells it. This might be the actor’s most challenging work yet, but he comes out the other side unscathed, confidently bringing Nick to life and begging his naysayers not to like him.

But it’s Pike who steals the show. Her voice is both haunting and soothing. This unpredictable performance is possibly the best of the year so far. There’s a moment where her face is covered in shadow and she turns toward the camera, possibly looking directly at us, and asks “Are you keeping score?” That’s when you realize that Gone Girl isn’t just a mystery or a commentary on the media, it’s a sadistic game.

Compared to Fincher’s other work, it’s something of a grab bag of what worked in his best films. It has the tense, rollercoaster ride of Se7en without a lot of the blood and guts. It has the social commentary of Fight Club without overreaching into preachiness. It has the timeliness of The Social Network without the disconnect from its characters. It has the rich character moments of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo without the main plot having little to do with them. Gone Girl showcases a David Fincher that has learned from his mistakes, easily putting it in the top tier of his work. And when this director is at his best, you’re going to get one of the best movies of any year. Maybe even a masterpiece. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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