Review: Gone Girl

See Chris Bumbray’s video review here!

PLOT: After five years of marriage, a man’s wife mysteriously disappears leaving him a suspect in her presumed murder. The case quickly becomes a media sensation, one that affects everybody connected to the missing woman.

REVIEW: When you take characters that are as unsympathetic as those featured in David Fincher’s latest, GONE GIRL, you take the risk of alienating the audience. Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, the main players involved live in a cynical world without empathy or understanding. Yet together, Fincher and Flynn – who also wrote the screenplay – are able to bring a sense of pulpy fun to this intoxicating and thrilling mystery. Even if you’ve read the book and know the outcome, it is nearly impossible to resist this slick and utterly satisfying thriller.

On his five-year wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) discovers that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has disappeared. With signs of a struggle, and Dunne’s seemingly cold and emotionless attitude, suspicion falls upon him. Soon a massive media storm begins affecting Nick, his supportive sister Margo (Carrie Coon), and everybody else involved in the beloved woman’s life. As evidence slowly builds against him, the entanglements of his missing wife and their relationship reveal there is something far more intricate going on than the public and his accusers realize.

As wildly successful as Flynn’s novel may be, it is difficult to reveal much more than that without giving away the secrets which GONE GIRL hides. Suffice it to say that the mysteries surrounding the film will satisfy most, whether or not you are familiar with the material. Thankfully, Fincher handles this delicate work with his usual expertise. While the story itself may relish in the tawdry nature of it all, the director – as he did with THE SOCIAL NETWORK – treats the work respectfully ultimately elevating what could have been a late night cable thriller.

It is interesting to have the novelist write the screenplay as well. And it works. The rich dialogue may seem fictitious at times yet there is a real unnerving power to it. Of course it helps that the performance from each of the actors is able to lend credibility to it all. This is as much a battle of wit, as it is a mysterious tale of ‘did he or didn’t he.’ This is a clever character exploration that offers constant surprises and keeps you guessing at every turn. The final act may run a little long, yet it finishes off with a very satisfying – if purposefully anti-climactic – crescendo.

The story is told from a couple of angles, including passages from the diary created by Amy herself. Never has one diary revealed this much in a mystery since Laura Palmers’ was discovered in a little town called “Twin Peaks.” Thankfully, we see part of this story through the lovely Rosamund Pike. And yes, all that you’ve heard is true, she is a revelation here. This is a deeply complex performance, one of the most captivating of the year. In fact, all the women here are given very strong roles and each of them carries through marvelously.

Carrie Coon, who portrays Nick’s sister, is the heart of the film and she and Affleck have beautiful chemistry together. As a conflicted detective torn between her beliefs in Nick’s guilt, Kim Dickens is a commanding presence. Not to be outdone of course, Ben Affleck is intensely strong here. His awkward and occasionally emotionless and cold demeanor lend to the role of a murder suspect perfectly. Neil Patrick Harris is also eerily unnerving as a former lover of Amy who was accused of stalking her. Even the smaller, supporting characters stand out. Missi Pyle is especially slithery as a Nancy Grace type personality obsessed with the case, and quick to spit out vitriol at the guilty until proven innocent husband.

Out of the many avenues this story explores – including the dangerously vicious news media – the idea of marriage gone wrong is succinctly uncovered. What happened to the perfect couple who would give clues for anniversary gifts? How could something so perfect, fall apart so quickly? With financial loss, grief and all the hardship that comes with relationships, it is a fascinating dissection of a troubled romance. This treacherous look at self-involvement and unwillingness to walk together hand-in-hand through the muck is a keen observation of what some call an egocentric age.

GONE GIRL is a nasty little thriller with a cunningly dark sense of humor. As entertaining as it is wicked, both Fincher and Flynn have more than successfully brought it to life. With its sharp wit and one hell of an absorbing score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the sense of dread here is contagious. And then there is Rosamund Pike. Not only is this her finest performance to date, it may be one of the best of the year. Thankfully, the good work is not hers alone. This sure to be successful thriller is likely a pulp classic, a rare thing in modern cinema.

Review: Gone Girl




About the Author

3139 Articles Published

JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.