Movies

Movie Review: Gone Girl

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MV5BMTk0MDQ3MzAzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU1NzE3MjE@._V1_SY209_CR1,0,140,209_AL_October is the month. Summer blockbusters become a memory as dramatic movies premiere, starting the race to the awards. October gave us “The Social Network” (2010), “The Ides of March” (2011), “Argo” (2012), “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips” (2013). This year, we’ve got “Gone Girl,” starring Ben Affleck (“Argo,” “The Company Men,” “The Town”) and Rosamund Pike (“Jack Reacher”).

Affleck (Nick Dunne) and Pike (Amy) play a married couple with marital woes. Laid off from their plum writing jobs in Manhattan during the recession, Nick and Amy relocate to Nick’s hometown in Missouri to care for his cancer-stricken mother. Amy’s trust fund finances a local bar that Nick co-owns with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon). He feels right at home. Amy, a big city gal and scholar, not so much.

In the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find the door to his house open, smashed coffee table, and no sight of Amy. Yet everything else appears suspiciously neat and immaculate. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) get called in and begin to investigate. It becomes very apparent right away that things are not what they seem.

Nick’s nonchalance and unsettling clues left by Amy, along with Nick’s own missteps make him a prime suspect. Even the introduction of a mistress, Andie Hardy (Emily Ratajkowski) and stalker ex-boyfriend, Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) as potential suspects do not take the spotlight off Nick. And in the modern age of media, Nick’s life gets scrutinized and spins. With Amy being sensationalized as America’s sweetheart, Nick is guilty in the eyes of the public. It doesn’t help that Amy’s parents (David Clennon and Lisa Banes) end up turning on him.

While continuing to maintain his innocence, Nick finds himself running out of options and turns to a slick celebrity defense attorney, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry). Together with Margo’s unwavering support, Nick uncovers each layer of mystery and finds out what really happened.

We learn through flashbacks Nick’s and Amy’s relationship from the start, progressing from lovey-dopey to cynical, volatile and toxic. And we gain insight into them as individuals, especially Amy. Eventually facades fade and their relationship degrades.

A force to be reckoned with, Pike phenomenally handles the multifaceted role, effortlessly alternating between scared and scary, from soft and sweet to crazed and steely. Affleck brings in an affable charm, perfectly masking a nonplussed husband’s repressed emotions. Supporting characters turn out strong performances. Coon as conflicted but ultimately supportive of her beleaguered twin brother, and Dickens as tough-as-nails detective who’s not easily fooled.

At 149 minutes, the film does feel long, but deft direction, sharp storytelling, purposeful pacing, brisk dialogue intermingled with surprising dark humor, accompanied by an eerie score maintain the suspense and keep us guessing. It’s a focused and fine creation from the director who put forth “The Social Network,” David Fincher. Fincher teams up with the author of the best-selling novel, Gillian Flynn, who writes the screenplay here, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Oscar-winning composers for “The Social Network.”

Gone Girl” is one of those films best seen cold. Don’t peek into the book. Steer clear from spoilers. What begins as a whodunit puzzle unfolds as a complex, character-driven page-turner, ending with a brutally bizarre twist.

Meticulously constructed, “Gone Girl” is layered with intricacy and laced with dread and wit. A deliriously diabolical psychological thriller, it won’t be gone from our collective mind anytime soon. “Gone Girl” will remain one of the most talked-about films of the year.

Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

"Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com."

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