By Veronica Mixon
The literary buzz about Gillian Flynn’s novel and the anticipation of David Fincher’s film based on the author’s screenplay, is well worth the fuss by the news and social media. Gone Girl is the most satisfying dramatic mystery that I’ve seen in many, many years.
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne who are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, when Amy simply disappears. Nick promptly calls the police to his elegant suburban home, and they look at a smashed glass coffee table and a tiny blood smear in the kitchen and begin to suspect foul play.
As they search for Amy, who is well-known because her parents used her as a character in a series of children’s books, the media coverage surrounding this possible tragedy swells into a frenzy of neighbors, curiosity seekers and obsessed fans. However, Nick’s cool, aloof manner wins him few friends. While the police led by Detective Boney (Kim Dickens) and the public idolize the beautiful images of his blonde wife, Nick is demonized because he’s an unemployed writer desperate to be liked. Also, the veneer of his not-so-perfect marriage begins to crumble, and the only support Nick receives is from his sister (Carrie Coon), who honestly confides, “whoever took her is bound to bring her back.”
Ms. Flynn has written a superb tale of narcissism in a marriage, and the fantasy and lurid fascination with celebrity constructed from the news. Director Fincher, whose films include Seven, Zodiac and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, calls this public obsession ‘Tragedy Vampirism.’ He loves delving into the murky world of human folly and bad decisions, and he’s assembled an excellent cast to bring this story to light.
Oscar winner (Argo), Ben Affleck is fearless in his portrayal of feckless Nick. On and off screen, he’s no stranger to intense media scrutiny, and plays this part perfectly. The lovely Rosamund Pike, best known for Pride & Prejudice, Die Another Day and Jack Reacher, astounds audiences with an intricate portrait of determined woman with many dark corners. Watching these two people, you realize that the romantic notion of marriage is a fragile bubble. And, you wonder if underneath it all, how much of marriage is lying.
The cast also includes Tyler Perry as Nick’s smart media savvy attorney, and Neil Patrick Harris as Amy’s weird former beau. Boyd Holbrook and Lora Kirke are equally compelling as a menacing, trashy duo who dispense important life lessons to one of the principle character.
Together Ms. Flynn and Mr. Fincher have created a wonderfully twisted film about modern marriage. Whether you’re satisfied or not with the ending, you will not forget this film.
Veronica Mixon is film critic and editor of Film Gazette. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.