In the marvelously entertaining Gone Girl, Ben Affleck plays Nick, a good-looking lug who can turn a phrase. At a party one night, he’s on his A game, and he snags the beautiful Amy (Rosamund Pike). She’s smarter, a good rung on the ladder more attractive than he is, has parents with some money and is a second-hand celebrity to boot. Not particularly gifted and certainly not a striver, he knows he’s the Lucky One. He has married above himself, but he doesn’t have a clue HOW MUCH above until she suddenly disappears.
Based on the enormously popular novel by Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay), Gone Girl is the mystery of what has happened to Amy and what is Nick’s role in the disappearance. Plot twists abound, but you won’t get any spoilers from The Movie Gourmet.
This is Rosamund Pike’s movie. Her appearance is so elegant – she looks like a crystal champagne flute with blonde hair – that pulling her out of Victorian period romances into this thriller is inspired. And Pike responds with the performance of her career. She’s just brilliant as she makes us realize that there’s something behind her eyes that we hadn’t anticipated, and then keeps us watching what she is thinking throughout the story.
Gone Girl is directed by the contemporary master David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Here, Fincher has successfully chosen to rely on Flynn’s page turner of a story and the compelling characters, so Gone Girl is the least flashy of his films, but one of the most accessible. I’ll say this for Fincher – I can’t remember a more perfectly cast movie.
Kim Dickens (Treme, Deadwood) is superb as the investigating detective – this time almost unrecognizable as a brunette. Tyler Perry is wonderfully fun as a crafty celebrity attorney. The unheralded Carrie Coon is excellent as Nick’s twin sister (I want to see more of her in the movies). Missi Pyle does such a good job as a despicable cable TV personality that I thought I was actually watching a despicable cable TV personality. And David Clennon and (especially) Lisa Banes positively gleam as Amy’s parents. (Carefully observe every behavior by the parents in this movie.)
Just like the thug in The Guard who forget whether he had been diagnosed in prison as a sociopath or a psychopath, I had the ask The Wife, who turned me on to this passage from Psychology Today. It’s useful to read this because, although you don’t realize it for forty-five minutes or so, Gone Girl is also a study of psychopathy.
Psychopaths … are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.
When committing crimes, psychopaths carefully plan out every detail in advance and often have contingency plans in place. Unlike their sociopathic counterparts, psychopathic criminals are cool, calm, and meticulous. Their crimes, whether violent or non-violent, will be highly organized and generally offer few clues for authorities to pursue. Intelligent psychopaths make excellent white-collar criminals and “con artists” due to their calm and charismatic natures.
Gillian Flynn changed the story’s ending for the movie. The Wife, who is a big fan of the novel, didn’t mind. Gone Girl is recommended for both those who have and have not read the book. I understand that there’s more humor in the movie, as we occasionally laugh at the extremity of the behavior of one of the characters.
It all adds up into a remarkably fun movie and one that I was still mulling it over days later. Gone Girl was the best big Hollywood studio movie of 2014 (not counting releases from the prestige distribution arms of the major studios). It’s now available on DVD from Netflix and streaming on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, Xbox Video and Flixster.