David Fincher may just be the most consistent director working in Hollywood right now, producing yet another deeply enthralling roller coaster of a thriller.
There is no way to delve into the plot of “Gone Girl” (2014) without revealing too much. Let it simply be said that a man, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), comes home on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary to find that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has disappeared. What happens next will shock you.
Much of the film is told through the eyes of the media, and their story is full of sensationalism, turning Nick’s life into something resembling a Lifetime movie. The film’s portrayal of the 24-hour news cycle is biting and unforgiving. One “reporter” closely follows the Nancy Grace approach to reporting, quickly taking sides on the story, her ruthlessness providing some much-needed comic relief to ease the nail-biting tension in the theater.
There is a surprising amount of humor in this brutal thriller, albeit a very dark form of comedy. Lines and even entire scenes are just crazy enough to make the audience laugh almost uncomfortably and almost unwillingly. In most comedies, the humor comes from one zany character and his crazy antics. “Gone Girl,” however, builds comedy around the struggles of normal characters to exist in a psychotic world, a ploy which generates laughs that feels fresh and new and frightening. An example of this pleasant new direction is Tyler Perry’s performance as Tanner Bolt, the TV-famous lawyer dealing with Nick’s case. Bolt serves as a much-needed voice of reason and as something of a mouthpiece for the audience’s feelings. Affleck himself also delivers a few deadpan lines that completely diffuse tense situations for a few seconds until something else happens and viewers are drawn back into the mess.
All acting performances in this film are to be applauded. The two police officers (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) break free from the stereotypical roles of the dumb detectives, so often obstacles to uncovering the truth. Thankfully, these two make smart, realistic decisions, as actors Dickens and Fugit work off each other to produce some comedic moments as well.
Even the choice to cast Emily Ratajkowski turned out to be for the best. Known mainly as that girl who danced topless next to Robin Thicke in the controversial “Blurred Lines” music video, Emily played the role of the clueless girl — be it accidentally or on purpose — perfectly. Ben Affleck too truly captured the essence of being lost and utterly confused, timing his squints to perfection.
All this, however, leads up to Rosamund Pike’s unforgettable portrayal of Amy. Her performance as the manipulative, psychotic, ensnaring, irresistible gone girl is, without trying to sound too flippant, fantastic. Her version of the “cool girl” is unlike any other, and is sure to make every man in the audience wary of the women in his life. With the help of expert camera work she is able to capture all the subtleties of her character, executing each and every meaningful look or off-putting smile to perfection.
The camera work and editing supported these performances, and sometimes even acted alongside them, to terrific results. Fincher experiments with his style throughout, and makes some daring editing decisions. Where most films attempt to make the editing seem invisible to the audience so as to suspend disbelief, “Gone Girl” often tries to create ambiance rather than mimic reality. The sound editing and score, too, help enforce the sense that no one is safe — catastrophe could strike at any moment.
“Gone Girl” is a no-holds-barred roller coaster of emotions that, despite the 149-minute run time, will pass by in a flash, leaving audiences wanting more. Most sinister of all, after “Gone Girl” men and women never see each other the same way. This is the perfect movie for date night.