Gone Girl (2014)

(On Cable TV, August 2015) While I like director David Fincher’s first movies more than his last few ones (Seven, The Game and Fight Club are classics; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo remake less so), the world at large seems to disagree, his stature having grown steadily since the beginning of his career.  With Gone Girl, though, it looks as if I’m re-joining the critical consensus: It’s a terrific thriller, unsentimental and merciless with a lot of depth along the way.  It starts innocently enough, as a man reports the suspicious disappearance of his wife.  As the plot unspools, twists appear.  Many twists, eventually leaving characters as aghast as viewers.  Saying more would be a disservice, except to praise both Ben Affleck and especially Rosamund Pike for performances that play off their existing persona (in Affleck’s case) or their lack of it (in Pike’s case).  Fincher directs the film with quasi-alien precision, which feels just about right when Gone Girl reveals itself to be an acid commentary on marriage.  A genre-aware script by Gillian Flynn (based on her own novel) makes Gone Girl a terrific thriller, but nearly everyone involved in the film bring their best work: In smaller roles, Tyler Perry delivers a memorable turn as a mesmerizing defense lawyer, while Carrie Coon transforms a small confidante role into something far more interesting.  Still, it’s director Fincher who remains the star of the show, effectively presenting his set-pieces with a lot of technical polish.  Gone Girl may not be a pleasant film, but it’s almost impossible to stop watching from its intriguing opening to its nightmarish conclusion.  It’s just not (really not) a date movie.

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