Gone Girl Review: When Marriage Goes Wrong

Marriage is hard. Ask anyone who’s done it, or is doing it. When it goes bad, some people just file for divorce and try again. But in David Fincher’s new film, Gone Girl, Nick and Amy Dunne take matrimonial disfunction to a whole new level and the results are equal parts mesmerizing and appalling.

It’s a tale as old as time. A boy, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), meets a girl, Amy Elliot (Rosamund Pike) and they fall in love and eventually get married. She is a trust fund baby whose entire life as a child was chronicled by her author mother. He is a writer for a men’s magazine in New York and his midwestern charm easily snags the heart strings of the girl. Life throws them curve ball after curve ball, and by the end, they both pretty much hate each other…or do they? Was any of their life ever real in the first place? In the hands of David Fincher (Seven, Zodiac, Fight Club), nothing is ever as it seems and as the story unfolds (or even unravels) before our eyes, questions and motives come into play leading to a twisted third act that has the audience rooting for, well, someone, and the evil that people do is played out to a somewhat satisfying conclusion.

Gone Girl Review

There is trouble brewing for Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) in David Fincher’s Gone Girl

Now, Gone Girl is a roller coaster ride of twists and turns and to even break it down would dabble into unfair spoiler territory so I’m doing my best to review the film by being as ambiguous as Ben Affleck’s acting ability. There is a major narrative shift in the second act that totally changes the film and if you can avoid spoilers, do so, as it’s this shift that makes or breaks Gone Girl in my opinion.

Fincher brings his usual directing gravitas to the production and gets the best out of his leads, even if Afflecks’s best is barely good enough (before I get hate mail, I love Affleck in certain roles and he’s an amazing director himself, but I now fear for the next DC Comics-based movie–I refuse to call it by that stupid title). Rosamund Pike (The World’s End, Jack Reacher) absolutely owns her role and this film and deservedly so. She sizzles on screen and her role is easily the best written from Gillian Flynn’s screenplay, adapted from her novel of the same name. Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris and Kim Dickens are all on top of their game here as well.

Gone Girl review

Rosamund Pike’s performance is one of the year’s best.

Trent Reznor re-teams with Fincher (they also worked together on Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) to score Gone Girl and his dulcet tones help set the tense mood as the story unfolds. Reznor, who made a career out of the industrial music scene on the mid-1990s, has found a new skill set in film scoring and hopefully he’ll get more work as his music creates atmosphere with sound and not many artists can do that consistently.

In the end, Gone Girl is a fine film that begs for conversation as the credit roll. It’s not a clean finish, and that may work well for fiction, but moviegoers like nice tidy bows to end their films, and this film leaves that bow untied. Does it work? Yes and no. Gone Girl can be called this generation’s Basic Instinct and those who remember that film–aside from Sharon Stone’s infamous flash–will remember a taut thriller that kept the audience guessing up to the end. Gone Girl flirts with the audience in very much the same way and while the answers aren’t hidden until the end, there is still much to think about. I will be haunted by Gone Girl long after this review is published, and that speaks volumes.

Gone Girl is rated R and opens nationwide on October 3rd.

Gone Girl Review
out of 5

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