By Matt Walsh
David Fincher’s latest film, “Gone Girl,” is a stunning and complex spin on American marriage culture. It’s filled with twists and turns from beginning to end and constantly keeps the viewer guessing.
Based on the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl” centers around Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his beautiful wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), who appear to have it all. Although hard economic times caused them to change careers, they reside happily in the small town of North Carthage, Miss., where Nick co-owns a bar with his sister, Margo. In the film, their wedding anniversary is approaching, but instead of enjoying it, Nick’s life will be turned upside down under extraordinary circumstances.
On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick returns home to find the home in disarray, such as a smashed coffee table in the living room. Amy is nowhere to be found. He immediately reports her missing. Word quickly spreads of Amy’s disappearance and the police and members of the community work tirelessly to find her. In return, it sparks a massive media circus and the spotlight turns to Nick, who begins to behave rather strangely.
The authorities soon grow suspicious of Nick, as they discover circumstantial evidence inside his home that points to his possible involvement in Amy’s disappearance. There are signs of violent struggle in other parts of the home, such as the kitchen. In addition, a series of secrets begin to emerge in regards to Nick’s personal life that paint him as the ultimate suspect. The portrait of Nick’s seemingly flawless marriage erodes amidst reports of adultery, domestic violence and financial troubles. He doesn’t fully realize that he is becoming his own worst enemy. This leaves the citizens of North Carthage asking a stunning question: Is it possible that Nick killed his own wife?
Ben Affleck was perfectly cast in the role of the unpredictable Dunne. Affleck, for example, was able to portray his character as being charming and handsome in one instance, but psychologically dark and tortured in the next. It is a realistic depiction of someone whose image is in turmoil under intense media scrutiny; yet not comprehending the consequences of their actions.
Apart from Affleck, Rosamund Pike gives a stellar performance as Amy. Rolling Stone describes it as being “dazzling, depraved and dynamite.” Although known primarily for supporting roles, the British actress stands out in her strong, breakout role.
Supporting appearances by Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris didn’t hurt the production, either. Perry adds comical relief in his small, but crucial role as the determined defense lawyer, Tanner Bolt. Harris creates tension as a mysterious lover from Amy’s past.
Flynn’s screenplay, according to the Huffington Post, remains extremely faithful to the original source. The plot is structured as a nonlinear storyline, rotating between Amy’s diary entries, which is a backstory for their relationship, and Nick’s commentary, which follows him as the mystery is unearthed.
The story is a relevant, yet stunning portrayal of the impact of media, dishonesty, and economic recessions and how they can put strains on one’s well-being.