in Review

Gone Girl

The world is a vampire. The systems society has put in place intending to protect people have been perverted by opportunists, sycophants, and psychopaths looking to walk all over the little people. Everything is broken, and anyone could find themselves with their very life in the balance at any moment. At least, that’s the world, or at least the America, that Gone Girl, David Fincher’s darkly comedic latest mystery, is set in.

Because if I told you there was a movie starring the likes of Ben Affleck, The World’s End‘s Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Casey Wilson, and Missi Pyle as almost exactly Nancy Grace, you’d think it was a comedy, wouldn’t you? In some ways, this movie is exactly that. One of the things that makes Gone Girl such a pleasure to watch is that it manages to showcase not just the frustration, terror, and uncertainty of a horrible situation, but the absurdity of it as well.

Ben Affleck is Nick, a regular guy who co-owns a bar with his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) and comes home one day to find his wife has disappeared. As the search for her begins, Nick finds himself under increasing scrutiny as the media, community, police, and even his family begin to wonder if he’s got something to hide. Nick’s just one of those guys that outwardly seems too great – he’s too smooth, too cool, too handsome – someone people basically want to hate. Which is why Affleck, who people do seem to desperate for a reason to hate, is so great for this role, and delivers one of his best performances.

As does Rosamund Pike as Amy, the eponymous missing woman. Watching her side of the story is equal parts depressing, horrifying, and infuriating, and it all works because Pike is so good at playing such a damaged character. It’s undoubtedly among the year’s best performances and deserves more positive attention than she’s been getting. One of the biggest complaints I’ve read is that people feel the movie doesn’t explain enough how Amy came to be broken the way she is, but I say that ambiguity makes her all the more interesting.

More than anything, Gone Girl is another showcase for how slick and thrilling David Fincher can make a movie. He finds something in every scene that adds the extra weirdness or humanity or memorability that helped keep me interested as a viewer. I remember a scene with Margo storming out of Nick’s house and on the way she briefly leans down to pet Nick’s cat. It’s such a bizarre touch, to throw off her dramatic exit like that, but it’s the way people actually behave. And it made me wonder how important that darn cat was going to be in the grand scheme of things.

But in the grand scheme of things, nothing really matters save the story people want to here. Gone Girl could have been a good murder mystery, but what made the movie great is the way it deconstructs the stories people tell themselves. But to try to explain that without spoiling anything would be quite a challenge, so instead I’ll say go see this damn movie, it’s not doing super great in the box office you jerks!