The Bock’s Office: ‘Gone Girl’ a mesmerizing mystery
The segment of wedding vows that mentions “till death do us part” isn’t one most at the altar want to make their focus. However, those five words are very important to those who make up the cast list of “Gone Girl.”
If you go…
“Gone Girl,” rated R
Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Running time: 149 minutes
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.
On the day of his fifth wedding anniversary, North Carthage, Missouri, man Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) finds his house ransacked and his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), missing. Fearing the worst, he contacts the police, who set to work trying to sort out Amy’s disappearance, which by all indications could be a kidnapping.
Or a murder.
And, the prime suspect may just be in plain sight.
Despite Nick’s claims that he and his spouse were happy, evidence begins to pile up that suggests otherwise, and as the manhunt continues for Amy, the public perception of Nick turns from one of sympathy to suspicion that this supposedly loving husband is a cold-blooded killer.
Right from the start, you’re never totally sure how to feel about Nick, and Affleck’s performance helps that along a lot.
He may be a skilled actor, but is the man he plays? Is the seeming lack of concern over his wife’s possible abduction or even death just a result of not knowing how to react to such an incident or is he hiding something more?
Or, is he just an idiot? It’s the uncertainty that keeps us watching …
Though the man of the house insists things were fine at home, Pike’s narration tells a different tale from the pages of Amy’s diary, chronicling her knight in shining armor’s descent into a negligent and even fearsome husband.
Kim Dickens deserves a show of her own on TNT or some similar channel for her role as the even-keeled but talkative detective who handles the case, giving Nick every benefit of the doubt, unlike her cynical partner (Patrick Fugit), while still admitting that not every part of his story adds up the way it should.
On Nick’s side are his twin sister (Carrie Coon) and a high-profile attorney (Tyler Perry) who agrees to help him prove his innocence purely for the notoriety, but even those within the community of North Carthage who have known Nick for years are quick to abandon him.
And, no, a flock of grief groupies doesn’t make it better.
Then there’s the national media ready to crucify him based entirely on a bad press conference, most notably a thinly veiled send-up of Nancy Grace (Missi Pyle). Plus, what’s the deal with Neil Patrick Harris lurking around as Amy’s rich ex-boyfriend?
If you’ve already finished author Gillian Flynn’s bestseller — and it’s undoubtedly going to be flying off the shelves now — you know there are two sides to every story, and sometimes neither is wholly true. Flynn adapts her own book for the film with some adjustments here and there but with the same presentation that the couple involved have a great deal more beneath the surface than is seen by the naked eye.
Direction by David Fincher trots out the sweeter traits of Nick and Amy’s relationship in its heyday before ripping that pleasing portrait to shreds with a new tableau of a WASPy woman whose trust fund lifestyle doesn’t exactly fit in with her hubby’s small town upbringing and her nervousness that Nick’s money problems might be solved if she were conveniently out of the picture.
Leave it to Fincher to make a movie that balances the syrup of new love with some unapologetic violence once the honeymoon is finished.
It’s not just the way some of these people are presented, it’s knowing that your own friend, neighbor, relative, whomever could be playing you for a fool and ready to make your life hell in the blink of an eye that makes this piece not only stunning in the telling but also a little terrifying when you step back and examine its hyperrealistic construction.
“Gone Girl” is a film you have to see to believe, not only for the reason that it’s spellbinding but that its portrayal of folks who are swimming in lies requires, if not demands, a firsthand experience. But, don’t take my word for it.