Gone Girl a mystery worth investigating

So, it turns out that … gyaaah, I can’t spoil it!

The movie Gone Girl, based on screenwriter Gillian Flynn’s massively successful 2012 novel, follows Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) after the other part of his unhappy marriage, Amy (Rosamund Pike), disappears on their fifth anniversary. The movie intercuts between Dunne dealing with police and media scrutiny as the primary suspect in her disappearance and the diary Amy Dunne left behind.

At least, that’s the first leg of the movie. The structure changes when … gyaaah, I can’t spoil it!

Director David Fincher ties it all beautifully together. Everything from camera angles, like these, to the swiftly vanishing opening credits text is designed to keep viewers guessing and off-balance. Photos courtesy 20th Century Fox.

This movie is awesome. It is the textbook definition of an emotional roller coaster. The audience is made to feel everything. We suffer as Nick Dunne is interrogated by police, hounded by paparazzi and crucified by media personalities. We reel with disgust as Amy Dunne recounts his fall from grace, from the perfect night they met to the aggressive cancer of a husband he had become.

Agony, avenging wrath, fear, horror, schadenfreude, all manner of psychosexual discomfort, Gone Girl takes the audience on a wild, crazy ride to the finish.

Director David Fincher will always be the king of contemporary film noir, but the credit has to go primarily to writing and acting. This movie is funny, uproarious, at times, simply because of the dialogue. The film falls frequently into a pit of narration, but Flynn kills it, with much of these parts being filled with enough cutting cynicism to give the narration the bite it needs to not fall flat.

Affleck and Pike carry the film with a fantastic set of supporting actors. Carrie Coon and Neil Patrick Harris are brilliant. It’s easy to forget, but Tyler Perry is actually a good actor. Pike is both the majestic, sexy, ephemeral trophy wife and … gyaaah, I can’t spoil it!

In hindsight, there’s really only one major plot twist. But the movie feels like it’s a constantly shifting thing. There are several major developments in each segment, and they’re superbly timed and treated.

Every development feels dramatic. It feels like the end of the world. Nick Dunne reacts to it, then other characters react to it, then the media reacts to it, then Amy Dunne carries the story for a little while, then there’s another plot twist, but the film goes through all these steps without feeling like it’s falling into a pattern. This adds so much time in between the twists that the audience’s collective heart rate has time to go back to zero before being blasted up to 100 again.

Is this the gaze of a predator or a house pet?

It’s not perfect. A cursory glance at the film’s Wikipedia page reveals a grandiose 149 minute runtime, which feels closer to 249 minutes, and even worse, that Ben Affleck is the star. Neither factor ruins the film, but really? They couldn’t have cast anyone else?

After a summer of little and a September of nothing, this film stands to breathe new life into the cinema industry as awards season follows it through the coming months. Go see it now, before spoilers can justifiably say it’s your fault for not seeing it.

Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and news editor for the NT Daily. I’ve had a change of heart about reader input. It is now welcomed and encouraged. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook, follow it on Twitter when I can be bothered to make one, and shoot questions to reelentropy@gmail.com.

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