Mystery, intrigue make Gone Girl a not-to-miss fall thriller

The chill of the autumn air grazed the back of my neck as I entered Alma Cinemas, my hometown’s local movie theater, last Saturday evening. I thought nothing of it, seeing how the wind chill was naturally going to nip the necks of Michiganders everywhere this time of year. However, it wasn’t until two-and-a-half hours later when I exited the theater that I realized how tepid the weather actually seemed in comparison to freezing sting of what I had just witnessed.

The film that garnered such a reaction was “Gone Girl,” the polarizing, bold new film from the always excellent David Fincher (“The Social Network,” “Se7en”), whose already stellar track record in film remains untarnished with this near-perfect psychological thriller.

Based on the popular novel by Gillian Flynn, though unread by me, “Gone Girl” centers on the sudden disappearance of Amy Elliott-Dunne (Rosamund Pike), a writer-turned-housewife of husband/bar-owner Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck). After reporting the possible kidnapping to the police, the investigation begins and the chase is on to find her.

However, as the days pass and the evidence piles up, police, the media and the outrage of the public finds Nick to be the most likely suspect. And just like that, it’s a race against time to develop a proper defense and prove his innocence while facing twists and turns that are just too good to give away.

Flynn, who also penned the script, admittedly had to alter and adapt the novel to the screen (again, I’m not the best at how to judge those changes). Regardless, while the reported humor and tone of the book is sacrificed because of this, the eerie charm and excitement remain intact, providing excellent source material for the actors.

The cast is consistently exceptional all-around, from Amy’s ex-boyfriend Desi Collings (an appropriately subdued Neil Patrick Harris) to Nick’s slick defense attorney Tanner Bolt (a surprisingly slick Tyler Perry). The strongest  performances come from leads Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, who portray our two protagonists.

The performance is especially strong from Pike – most of whose work is through her menacing voicework over the chilling journal entries she leaves behind for law officials to piece together. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a female lead in 2014 that can portray the shocking grasp of tone and wit as Pike’s gripping performance.

The most sincere of congratulations goes to director David Fincher, whose work over the years has always caught the right tone between perplexing and straightforward, always placing just the right amount of detail, focus and intrigue into whatever subject he’s assigned to tackle. His work may not be as finely tuned as something like “The Social Network,” but he still finds the dark, disturbing tone necessary for this type of material.

Overall, “Gone Girl” is an easy front-runner for one of 2014’s best films. Its direction, performances and script all succinctly work together to provide the viewer with a tense bravura of filmmaking. Though some may be turned off by the film’s dark tone and unsatisfying ending (though not to me), what stands out about the film is too good to let slip by unnoticed.

Be warned, though – the cold chill of autumn is simply no match for the blistering bite of “Gone Girl.”

This entry was posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014 and is filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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