“I’ve seen Batman’s penis” seems a fitting introduction to a review of David Fincher’s tenth fiendishly crafted thriller, Gone Girl.
It’s what we’ve come to expect when we’re in the hands of the cunning director of Se7en, Girl With Dragon Tattoo, Zodiac and, most popularly, Fight Club – a trippy and slick and glossy treatment of a dark world. Thanks to a clever, first-rate shocker novel/screenplay by Gillian Flynn, a master of manipulation, Fincher is given free reign to explore haunting themes that will leave audiences gobsmacked. Husbands and wives will never look at each other the same again.
The story sets off by establishing the relationship between two New York City journalists, Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne, who are set to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary. Using an incoherent storytelling method (told from the romantic diary entries), we learn about their sexy past and how they’ve grown together over the years. On the morning of their anniversary, Nick ventures off for a bourbon at the tavern he owns. A little more off than usual, he confides in his sister that his wife will one up him in the gifts department this year. Their conversation is interrupted by a phone call from a neighbor, who informs Nick that his front door is ajar. He returns home to find a coffee table smashed and his wife missing. Soon after, the police are called in to investigate, but his lack of empathy (he is too calm and collected) leads them to suspect him of murder. From there Nic gets thrown down a rabbit hole of mystery and media frenzy. But did he kill his wife?
Gone Girl is endlessly entertaining and will push audiences forward in their seats, wondering what direction the film is headed towards. It’s a good guessing game and just when it comes together into place, another shocking twist raises a hundred more questions. The unreliable narrator is a gambit that is hardly every pulled off with this expertise. Fincher plays with his audience, like an ever subtle poke in an uncomfortable area. There is always more going on here than we’re being shown. Although it runs almost 2½ hours, thanks to feverish editing, the tension is kept air-tight throughout. Avoid the trailers, the less you know about Gone Girl going in the better.
The performances are all on point. Affleck is perfect and believable as Nick (even though I spent sometime picturing him as Batman – you can’t help yourself). Pike is spellbinding as Amy, truly flexing her acting muscles. If anyone is worthy of an Oscar Nomination here, Pike would be on the forefront for an award. Other supporting cast members, like Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, and even Tyler Perry, play their parts with conviction and belief. You won’t be disappointed.
As entertaining as it is evil and sadistic, issues of deception, money, family, marriage, media, friendship, love, murder and communication have never intertwined so well as they do here. There is a dark sense of humor lingering underneath the surface of Gone Girl, but it all works together to create what will become 2014’s most talked about movie.
* Oh, and there is that brief nudity – we see Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris’s penis in two different scenes.