Currently, everyone is freaking out about the movie Gone Girl. Whos everyone? Well, for starters, people who have read the book (not me) and people who love David Fincher movies (me). This was evidenced by the crowd I was with at the noon showing on opening day a bunch of ladies who’ve loved Gillian Flynns book since its release in 2012, and a bunch of nerds like me, who wanted to watch a murder mystery in the middle of the day.
Adapted for the screen by Flynn, Gone Girl is the story of a seemingly boring Missourian, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), whose out-of-his-league uptight New York wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), disappears on their fifth anniversary. On the surface, Nick and Amy appeared to have a pretty good marriage. But like any marriage, only the people in it really know whats happening; and as the layers are peeled away, we learn that Nick and Amy are in the running for Shittiest Couple Ever.
The movie is split between the present and flashbacks that lead up to Amys disappearance. We see that they met at a hipster loft party (Amy drinks fancy beer!) and Nick won her over by using some advanced Pick-Up Artist material. I know, I cant believe it worked, either! But even in the onset of their relationship, one thing seems abundantly clear: Nick and Amy are jerks. For starters, nobody talks the way that they do especially the way that Amy does. Before she and Nick kiss for the first time, she tells him that he has a, villains chin. OK, nobody talks like that. Ever. Furthermore, what the fuck is a villains chin? Everything Amy says is unusual, at least to me. At first I thought it was an issue with Flynn adapting her novel and failing to alter the dialog so that it sounds genuine when spoken aloud. But then I began to wonder if this was an intentional move to make Amy, who is a spoiled brat, seem as though she had a superiority complex.
And this is where David Fincher starts to make you feel weird about whats happening. On the one hand, youre worried about Amy, but on the other hand, you dont like Amy at all.
You cant have a murder mystery without some cops; and here, they are played really well by Patrick Fugit (who I was surprised to learn isn’t still the kid from Almost Famous) and Kim Dickens (who was great in the criminally underrated HBO show Trem). What else does a good crime drama need? A good lawyer! And if you never believe anything I ever say, believe this: Tyler Perry, who plays Nicks high-profile, super expensive attorney Tanner Bolt, is crazy good in this role. I know! I was just as surprised, especially because I read an article back in August in which Perry said, I probably would have walked away from it. If I had known who David Fincher was, and his body of work, or if Id known the book was so popular, I would have said, No. ARE YOU SERIOUS,TYLER PERRY. After a while, I thought, OK, Perry is primarily a director, so maybe he hasnt yet felt comfortable in front of the camera like some of his peers, e.g., M. Night Shyamalan. But wait – the first time people heard of Tyler Perry was when Tyler Perry was starring in Tyler Perrys movies, which have made him insanely rich and popular. Solike, why did he think it was a bad idea to have a role in what was certain to be a box office hit? I don’t know!But hey, Tyler if you read this: you were great as Nicks defense attorney. One of the highlights of the film, in fact.
And speaking of highlights, lets talk about Neil Patrick Harris and Casey Wilson. Here are two actors who made their bones in comedies (Harris: How I Met Your Mother; Wilson: SNL, Happy Endings) but who have a great impact in this dark, twisted story. Harris is a Super Creep as Amys ex-boyfriend/part-time stalker Desi Collings, and Wilson brings a welcomed southern charm/naivet to the role of the Dunnes neighbor, Noelle. In addition, Missy Pyle as a Nancy Grace knock-off named Ellen Abbott, and the flawless Sela Ward, who has the itty-bittiest cameo as Sharon Schieber (a sort of Oprah/Barbara Walters media icon), add a much-needed layer of frenzy and demonstrate how quickly these stories get blown up.
And heres the part where I have to stop writing. You see, this is a very complicated, very dark story, and anything I say from here on would give it away, because this movie has more twists than a pretzel factory. But I will say this to fans of the book: my understanding is that you will dig it. And to fans of David Fincher: there is just enough of an icky, Fincher-style creep factor to make you feel right at home.
Gone Girl is a good movie. It might even be one of the better movies to come out this year. But as a big fan of Fincher, Id be lying if I said this was one of his best movies.