Last week, I went into the local McDonalds expecting to rent a copy of David Fincher’s Gone Girl. I was let down, though, as it was sold out and I had to settle for Tusk, which turned out to be the biggest waste of my time since I joined Twitter. But second try’s the charm, apparently, and I was graced with Gone Girl‘s presence this week. For the most part, I was not let down.
Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay), Gone Girl chronicles the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Oscar-nominated Rosamund Pike). Her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) soon finds himself in the midst of a media firestorm blaming him for the murder of his wife. But is everything as it appears? Considering this is a mystery, I’m going to go ahead and guess no.
Let’s start with the pros, which are plenty. I’ve never been a huge fan of Ben Affleck, but he does a commendable job here. He is, however, shown up by Rosamund Pike, who is pitch perfect and becomes incredibly chilling as the film goes on. Its supporting cast, which includes Neil Patrick Harris (who is really quite creepy, as well) and Tyler Perry (who is surprisingly not awful), is great as well; there’s not really a dud in the bunch.
Fincher proves once again he’s fantastic in the director’s chair; an overarching sense of dread hangs over everything, even besting the suspense he put forward in 2007’s Zodiac. It’s all perfectly paced, and everything feels slightly “off,” to the point where you feel you cannot trust even the most likeable characters. This can be credited to both Fincher and writer Flynn, whose screenplay twists and turns with the best of them. You think you know where the story is going to go, but you’re wrong every time.
The screenplay does start to become incredulous near the end of the film. It’s really difficult to discuss this without spoiling anything, but a couple hugely successful twists lead to a denouement that doesn’t really make a helluva lot of sense. Characters go against their personalities the film has set up so well, plot holes the size of black holes are opened up, and the ending is quite disappointing. It never stops being shocking, but it does start to be somewhat unbelievable. It’s kind of a shame.
But it by no means undoes everything the film has accomplished. For two hours, Gone Girl is absolutely marvelous and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Everything is revealed just at the right time, the characters are gripping and a few scenes will make your jaw drop. Also successful is the film’s underlying sense of humor, mostly pointed towards the sensationalist media. Its most prominent journalist is an A-plus satire of Nancy Grace and Ann Coulter who had me constantly cracking up. It’s also a film that is as much about the faux faces we put on for cameras and other people as it is about the main mystery, and that part of the movie is absolutely spot-on.
Even as someone who finds people who point out minute plot holes the worst kind of viewer, its script begins to unravel and lose itself in a web of incredulity. Still, don’t let that ruin a film that is successful for 90% of its running time and is an absolutely fantastic mystery and satire. As a whole, Gone Girl is definitely worth a watch.
P.S.: I’d also like to quickly mention the film could easily be construed as misogynistic (despite being written by a woman), and I’d be willing to bet many feminist viewers will have a problem with its portrayal of women. Just a heads-up.
Zach Johnson can be reached at email@example.com, or on his Twitter page, @zachandforth.