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Gone Girl Movie Review

Gone Girl (2014) movie poster Gone Girl

Theatrical Release: October 3, 2014 / Running Time: 149 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: David Fincher / Writer: Gillian Flynn (novel & screenplay)

Cast: Ben Affleck (Nick Dunne), Rosamund Pike (Amy Dunne), Neil Patrick Harris (Desi Collings), Tyler Perry (Tanner Bolt), Carrie Coon (Margo Dunne), Kim Dickens (Detective Rhoda Boney), Patrick Fugit (Officer James Gilpin), David Clennon (Rand Elliott), Lisa Banes (Marybeth Elliott), Missi Pyle (Ellen Abbott), Emily Ratajkowski (Andie Fitzgerald), Casey Wilson (Noelle Hawthorne), Lola Kirke (Greta), Boyd Holbrook (Jeff), Sela A. Ward (Sharon Schieber), Lee Norris (Officer), Jamie McShane (Donnelly), Leonard Kelly-Young (Bill Dunne), Kathleen Rose Perkins (Shawna Kelly), Scoot McNairy (Tommy O'Hara)
Gone Girl is one of DVDizzy.com's Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).Gone Girl ranks 12th in our list of the Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).

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Gone Girl, one of the fall's most anticipated movies, does not disappoint. In her film debut, Gillian Flynn adapts her bestselling 2012 novel of the same name for director David Fincher. Though the text is highly regarded, Fincher is the primary source of excitement.
One of the most proficient filmmakers working today, he has delighted on a fairly regular basis for almost twenty years. Fincher has succeeded in a variety of genres, but perhaps has flourished most in mystery and suspense, which makes him particularly well suited to helming this adaptation.

The film opens on July 5, 2012. It is the fifth wedding anniversary of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), but the occasion is far from joyous. In the morning, Nick sneaks out for some solitude and finds himself ordering a drink at The Bar, an establishment he owns with his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon). Unlike his drink, Nick's marriage is on the rocks. When he returns home to fetch the couple's cat from a neighbor, Amy is nowhere to be found and there is evidence that a struggle took place. Nick calls the police to report the disappearance and cooperates with Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), the detective who expedites a missing persons case.

In "Gone Girl", Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) becomes the primary suspect in his wife's disappearance.

Suspicion quickly falls upon Nick. He answers the police questions and refuses to hire a lawyer, insisting he has nothing to hide. But his alibi isn't airtight and their marriage isn't as happy as he implies.

Flashbacks flesh out the relationship, starting with a cute meeting at a New York party. Within a few years, though, economic recession, unemployment, infertility, and relocation begin taking their tolls on the educated, attractive, well-bred couple. Entries from Amy's diary paint a troubled and worsening portrait of the union. Not helping matters is the revelation that Nick has been far from faithful to his wife, the namesake and inspiration for her parents' "Amazing Amy" children's books.

To say more about Gone Girl's plot would spoil twists that those who haven't read the book will not see coming. It is enough to say that our perception of reality changes thoroughly in unforeseen ways. Our sympathies for characters ebb and flow as we discover the truth about Amy's disappearance and apparent murder.

As her marriage flounders, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) expresses her thoughts in a diary.

Late last decade, Fincher seemed to take a liking to mainstream fare with Academy Award potential. His first and second PG-13 movies, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network, drew a wealth of attention from the Oscars and other honors that had up until then ignored the director. Fincher returned to darker and edgier fare with his 2011 remake The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,
which became an unlikely Christmastime blockbuster and an Oscar nominee in five categories including Editing, which it won. That reception seems to make clear that it is Fincher's considerable talent, not necessarily his subject matter, which is now winning him raves and accolades.

Clearly one of the great filmmakers of his generation, the 52-year-old Fincher got his start on music videos and commercials in the late 1980s. He never fails to elevate his material, be it an effects-heavy epic from the screenwriter of Forrest Gump or the hunt for a real or imagined serial killer. Fincher is as technically proficient as anyone, but those gifts never overshadow his ability to tell an interesting story with compelling characters. Gone Girl perhaps doesn't challenge him in ways his earlier films haven't, but it clearly engages him and we are the better for it.

Though it runs two and a half hours, this film remains absorbing throughout. You're surprised when an ending arrives and not just by its unconventionality. You want answers and justice, but you do not want the movie to end. Films are rarely as gripping as this and almost never for as long. Gone Girl sustains an atmosphere of suspense, intrigue, and uncertainty without honoring standard act structure, using a linear narrative, or fixating on procedure. The film keeps you guessing and hoping. It makes you hate characters while also caring about them and developing an understanding of them. It is a contemporary tale which acknowledges the impact of television, specifically Nancy Grace types and 24-hour news channels, on public investment and sentiment. It also considers the limitations of the criminal justice system and the frightening yet believable possibility that everyone could get the facts wrong.

Gone Girl is certain to compete for many awards over the next several months and deservingly so. It is a smart, complex, and taut thriller that excels without the tiresome standard elements we associate with award-winning fare. Fincher draws great performances from his cast, which is assembled creatively with a number of focal parts performed by actors we haven't seen much of. Pike, plenty seasoned but not yet a household name in America, will be the standout, her juicy part almost certain to land her in the Best Lead Actress category. Affleck has never gotten much credit for his acting, which has improved exponentially since his days as an early noughties punchline. While that is unlikely to change here, his understated, ambiguous lead turn is essential to the film's success. The supporting cast, comprised from very different places, maintains the high caliber of drama, resulting in a film that captivates from start to finish.

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Related Reviews:
Directed by David Fincher: The Game Zodiac The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
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Rosamund Pike: Jack Reacher The World's End Surrogates An Education The Big Year
Now in Theaters: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them The Drop Boyhood
Gone Baby Gone Primal Fear Blue Jasmine Prisoners Misery

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Reviewed October 3, 2014.

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