Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl (2014)

Genre: Drama Running Time: 2 hrs. 29 min.

Release Date: October 3rd, 2014 MPAA Rating: R

Director: David Fincher Actors: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Emily Ratajkowski

 


 

“G

one Girl’s” perplexing premise, filled with morally flawed characters, is built with a masterful touch. Like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” the audience is given clues to a baffling crime with copious suggestions that nothing is quite as it seems, and a cataclysmic reveal is introduced with shocking prematurity. But the praises of perfection stop there. Once the real mystery is solved, “Gone Girl” heaps on a surplus of unwarranted characters, side plots, and red herrings that extend the film’s running time without boosting the intrigue; both protagonist and antagonist alike repeatedly contradict their motives and ideals as the film advances, only clouding their formerly resolved personas. When lies finally fall away and the truth appears, director David Fincher’s latest effort discloses content worthy of multiple pictures – just not enough focus for one.

In a whirlwind romance, men’s magazine writer Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and personality columnist Amy Elliott (Rosamund Pike) fall in love and quickly marry. Their life together is blessed with endless happiness – for a while. When both fall victim to a recession, lost jobs, and hardships with parents, the couple moves from New York to Missouri and attempts to start again. But the strain is too much, with periodic bickering giving way to constant fighting. On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick returns home to find Amy gone and telltale signs of a struggle. When police detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) arrives to inspect the woman’s disappearance, she soon uncovers clues that point to foul play, forcing Nick to partner with his loyal sister Margo (Carrie Coon) in pursuit of the truth – all while the community stages a massive search and the judgmental world watches.

“All of a sudden I feel like I’m in a ‘Law & Order’ episode,” exclaims a flummoxed Dunne, who seems oddly surprised at a standard line of questioning. He is, after all, the spouse in a missing persons case – the typical first suspect in any such investigation. And, indeed, outside of the remarkably compelling police procedural that follows the sleuthing of a convincing detective and her moderately comic sidekick, “Gone Girl” does begin to feel like something out of “Law & Order.” As the colossal running time builds up, it’s easy to pick out the starting and stopping points of what could have been several separate airings of the aforementioned television program.

In an attempt to spice up a mystery that is entirely predictable, frequent flashbacks, readings from a journal, jumping around in the timeline, and voiceover narrating are implemented just to complicate the editing. It could have been clever for the sake of misdirection, but the initially exhilarating battle of wits gradually deteriorates as the story begins to exhibit notes of “Sleeping with the Enemy,” “Match Point,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Prisoners,” and even “Rosemary’s Baby.” To its credit, the performances are sensational, led by the naturalness of Affleck and Pike and a bevy of supporting roles that never display weaknesses. Even Tyler Perry is enjoyable.

“Gone Girl” essentially serves to visualize a marriage that plausibly crumbles; Nick has a temper and has drifted away from caring about his wife’s daily routines, while Amy feels sexually used and drained of her once considerable wealth. These aren’t unreasonable scenarios. The media’s impact on the crime aggravates the players (not unlike Billy Wilder’s often forgotten classic “Ace in the Hole”), highlighting suspicions and paranoia, unveiling motives, and provoking a flip-flopping of public crucifying and embracing. As a mere analyzation of why a marriage might end in murder, blown out of proportion by the press, “Gone Girl” could have been absorbing. But with the insistence of tossing in surprises and subplots to an excessive extreme (at one point, the film effectively starts over), it rapidly shifts into a bombardment of coincidences and contrivances that dull the suspense of collecting clues and stymying mind games.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10