Gone Girl

Directed By: David Fincher

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, and Scoot McNairy

"What are you thinking?  What are you feeling?  What have we done to each other?  What will we do?"
-Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck)

Awards season has begun on a rather wicked note.  Oddly enough, I find myself in the peculiar position of kicking things off admitting just how wrong I was about a movie.  That movie is David Fincher's Gone Girl.  I haven't read the book by author Gillian Flynn, but I did understand the general premise of the film.  With Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike headlining Fincher's latest, I was less than excited to say the least.  I genuinely did not think the cast would or could get it right, and, in turn, I got it wrong.  With pitch perfect casting, Fincher, Affleck, and Pike put on one hell of a show.  This weekend’s Gone Girl gets the awards season started in style.

Once a successful writer for a men's magazine, Nick Dunne (Affleck) finds himself in a professional rut.  Having moved back home to take care of his ailing mother two years ago, Nick works at a bar alongside his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon).  It's safe to say that he's not exactly living the high life.  However, Nick finds himself in even more of a personal rut.  He absolutely hates his life with his wife Amy (Pike).  Seven years ago, they fell deeply in love sharing their first kiss in a cloud of sugar on the streets of New York.  Today, they're married and don't have the slightest clue as to what the other is thinking or feeling.  When Nick arrives home one day, he can't find Amy but does find one wrecked living room.  After notifying the police about this suspicious scene, some start to wonder about what's happened to Amy.

Given the bloody, violent circumstances of her disappearance, the police quickly launch an investigation to find "Missing Amy".  Detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) are on the case.  Alongside his in-laws Rand and Marybeth Elliott (David Clennon and Lisa Banes), Nick finds himself the center of attention and a media darling.  Within the community and with TV personalities like Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle), he's a hero soldiering through dark times.  As the public begins to take a closer look at Nick's life with his wife, however, they begin to wonder what Nick and Amy have done to each other.  Secrets begin to come out, lies become undone, and the simplest answer to Amy's disappearance takes hold of the public psyche.  With the notion that he killed his wife now pervading the community and the media, Nick finds himself wondering what he will do.

I really underestimated Gone Girl.  Having been away from the big screen since his successes with The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher has done it yet again.  His latest film is a winding dramatic thriller full of intrigue, suspense, and endless mystery, especially for those who have not read the source material on which the film is based.  Stylistically at the top of his game, Fincher doesn't miss a beat.  His brilliance shines most, however, in his casting decisions.  Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike couldn't be better for the lead roles.  In fact, Fincher turns what I consider to be their fatal flaws as actors into real strengths that elevate the film to greatness.  All in all, Gone Girl doesn't disappoint.

David Fincher is no stranger to thrillers.  The Se7en director gives us a quietly intense film marked by all his typical stylistic flourishes.  You can see it in the grey yet glossy cinematography that subtly creates a bleak yet edgy setting for the film. You can hear it in the light score full of melodic piano compositions that set a somber tone.  You can feel it in the measured pacing of this meticulously crafted film in which Fincher reveals information to his viewers at exactly the moment he wants us and not a second prior.  His use of all these cinematic techniques allow him to create a suspenseful narrative that brews for two and a half hours while keeping moviegoers on the edge of their seats.

Fincher really draws some outstanding performances from his cast by playing on some of their defining qualities as actors.  For his part as Nick Dunne, Ben Affleck gives us the charming pretty boy we've all come to know and love (or hate for the #NoDisrespectToBenAffleck Twitter users).  His performance works to great effect in a film marked by a quiet intensity.  More importantly, Fincher uses Affleck's pitch perfect performance to great effect in creating Nick's often controversial media persona.  For her part as Amazing Amy, Rosamund Pike delivers what I consider to be the absolute best performance of her career.  There's always been a chill and an aloofness to her performances that has prevented her from connecting with moviegoers.  Here, Fincher capitalizes on this quality and lets the sicko in Pike come out.  As this missing housewife, Pike is deliciously menacing and unpredictably cunning.  With her cold, slippery portrayal of Gone Girl Amy, Pike comes into her own and becomes larger than life on screen.

The supporting cast members deliver outstanding performances as well.  For her part as Nick's sister Margo, Carrie Coon shows off her acting chops.  With some highly emotional turns, she steals the spotlight on several notable occasions.  As trial lawyer Tanner Bolt, Tyler Perry gives quite the comedic performance.  Cutting through the film's dark tone, he brings levity at just the right moments.  The same can be said for Scoot McNairy in his performance as Tommy O'Hara.  For his part as Amy's ex-boyfriend Desi Collings, Neil Patrick Harris shows us a different side as well.  While the How I Met Your Mother star's performance isn't legen-wait-for-it-dary, it's definitely intriguing to watch him give a much more serious performance.  He has a certain melancholic presence in the film that just clicks.

Gone Girl is undoubtedly one gripping piece of cinema that hits the spot.  I could keep writing for days about this one.  David Fincher knocks it out of the park.  With outstanding work from the cast and crew and potent performances from Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this one later in the awards season.  Gone Girl gets a sober rating.