We can’t go on together with suspicious minds

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl
Ben Affleck is the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance in Gone Girl. (20th Century Fox)

Gone Girl (A)
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Neil Patrick Harris
Screenplay by Gillian Flynn
Directed by David Fincher

In yet another flawless genre exercise, David Fincher has delivered the most devastating, darkly funny movie of the year. Gone Girl, with a script by the novel’s author Gillian Flynn, is at once terrifying, engaging, revolting and often hilarious.

Ben Affleck, continuing a comeback streak as hot as Matthew McConaughey’s, plays the conflicted Nick, who comes home one afternoon to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. He immediately calls the police but something about the crime scene—and indeed their marriage as we learn in flashback—is a little bit off. A few suspicious answers and an inopportune smile and suddenly Nick has turned into the prime suspect.

What’s brilliant about where Gone Girl goes from here—and unless you’ve read the book, it would be nearly impossible to guess exactly what happens and why—is in its construction. Though Flynn ditches the bifurcated structure of the book, Fincher found a way to brilliantly present the he said-she said aspect. To Nick, his marriage was bad. To Amy, it was a nightmare. The flashbacks show cracks in the couple’s seemingly strong foundation. Maybe Nick wasn’t such a nice guy. Maybe Amy isn’t just a victim of circumstance.

Even as he’s combining the procedural and the twist-a-minute thriller (like two of his best films, Zodiac and The Game), Fincher and Flynn still found time to comment on marriage, the economy and male-dominated culture. Their view on the former is either depressingly cynical or hilariously twisted, depending on your viewpoint. The latter two are perhaps too on-the-nose, but they’re fair game.

Pike and Affleck are simply perfect in their roles. She’s got the showier role, running the gamut of emotions. But he’s just as good at playing Nick’s confusion and duplicity. The rest of the cast fits exactly into their parts as well. Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens, two veteran actresses, bring just the right amount of trust and suspicion to Margo (Nick’s sister) and Rhonda (the lead detective). Tyler Perry, who somehow didn’t even know who David Fincher was, is dead-on as the fast-talking attorney Nick hires. Neil Patrick Harris tweaks the creep factor on his Barney Stinson persona up to 10 as Amy’s ex. And then there are meaty, well-written roles for the likes of Missi Pyle, Sela Ward, Casey Wilson and Dallas native Scoot McNairy.

It should go without saying that the music, cinematography and editing are top-notch. Fincher makes movies about obsession, and he’s appropriately obsessed with every scene being flawless. Gone Girl runs about 20 minutes too long, but its ending is appropriately devastating. When a movie’s this well-crafted, the extra length just gives us more time to marvel at what’s happening onscreen.

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