Gone Girl beats odds, revitalizes mystery genre

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Even though he is known for having a knack for filming twisted and maniacal deeds, director David Fincher has managed to make a movie that is at the same time luxurious, dreamy and discomforting.

Carrying over from his earlier works such as Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac, Fincher has grown into one of the most mature modern directors working today. While Gone Girl may not be his best film to date, it surely is an excellent example of what a Hitchcockian movie would look and feel like during the iGeneration.

On the gloomy morning of their anniversary, Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) find themselves in trouble when Amy ends up missing. After calling the police and hiding several truths about Amy, Nick quickly becomes the primary suspect. Who is an easier target than a sociopathic husband whose wife has gone missing? Oh, but wait there’s more: financial issues, life insurance trouble, angry neighbors and even a note in Amy’s diary noting that Nick might kill her.

Viewers are left to ponder: are all of these clues red herrings, or do they actually point to Nick, a typical thirty-something American male who owns a bar and plays video games? To say anything more about the plot would be a crime; for those who have read Gillian Flynn’s novel, there should be no worries. The film, while it does reveal several missteps, is a near flawless adaptation. To make matters better, Flynn also wrote the masterful screenplay.

This movie spans a lengthy two and a half hours, and at times it feels much longer. Luckily, “boring” or “drawn out” do not accurately characterize the pacing and tone of the movie. Gone Girl slowly, but elegantly, reveals a disturbingly intense story. Countless plot twists and surprises invite viewers to look closer into Amy and Nick’s crumbling marriage; as their stories collide, we do not know whom to trust, which makes the viewing experience exhaustingly exciting.

Gone Girl’s dark, biting humor allows for more realism and connectivity as well. Fincher is known to complement his actors’ cold, intelligent expressions with the film’s muted, unsaturated look. Without a doubt, this film presents a beautiful cinematographic production.

The smart, witty dialogue does not come off as forcefully hip either. As we watch Amy and Nick’s romantic past, we can comfortably laugh and smirk over two writers exchanging playful sarcasm. The relationship between the actors (and their characters) is supported through strong chemistry, which makes the crumbling love that much more real and painful for the audience.

While Fincher exposes an array of suspenseful homages from the ‘50s and ‘70s, this modern film is unique in its examination of manipulative relationships, the economy and idiocy in the media.

Aside from the darkly funny and disturbingly sick themes, Gone Girl revels in the performance of Pike. She serves as the primary driver for the gripping quality the movie permeates.

While Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris (Desi, Amy’s ex-boyfriend), Carrie Coon (Nick’s twin sister) and Tyler Perry (Nick’s lawyer) expertly mold themselves as relatable people in a nightmarish world, Pike easily takes the trophy for the strongest performance.

Thankfully, Fincher’s ode to the arguably dying suspense genre is revitalizing. This is a high-end B movie that shouldn’t show Oscar season worthiness, and yet it does. This is a story that is so trashy, pulpy and messed up, that it seems ridiculous to call it intelligent or mesmerizing, and yet it is. Gone Girl is a must-see for any cinematic thrill-seeker.

Our Take: 4/5