As mysteries and thrillers go, the David Fincher-directed “Gone Girl” is premium chocolate — with a treacherous aftertaste. Fincher, working from Gillian Flynn’s screenplay of her hit novel, handles this tale of manipulation and deceit with a master’s stylish touch.
“Gone Girl” runs 2 hours and 35 minutes, but there are no wasted words or scenes. Lean and mean, Fincher makes every frame count. All the while, the director and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth make this twisted movie about sick people gorgeous to behold.
Boldly perverse, “Gone Girl” seems poised to spawn a new film genre. It’s a mystery-thriller-comedy. The almost surrealistic tone Fincher and his A-list cast spin accommodates mystery, suspense and dry comedy.
At this early time for awards consideration, “Gone Girl” may leap to the top of many best-of-year lists. Possible awards nominations include best actress, best director, best actor and best screenplay.
Fincher found the ideal pair of actors to play the troubled husband and wife from whom the story radiates. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, the unemployed journalist who’s married to the elegant, brilliant Amy.
Affleck turns his performance as average guy Ben into something that’s anything but average. He shapes it with nuance, wit and rainbows of emotion — more evidence that Affleck is among the most thoughtful actors in movies.
As exceptional as Affleck is as Ben, he’s matched by Rosamund Pike as Amy. A previously not-so-famous British actress who played Bond girl Miranda Frost in 2002’s “Die Another Day,” she’ll be famous when “Gone Girl” hits the world’s movie screens.
The role of Amy demands much. Pike delivers in spades. It’s the fearless performance that this wickedly subversive story needs. Pike lives the role of Amy with mystical luminosity and primal ferocity.
Flynn’s screenplay and Fincher’s direction tell the couple’s story in part through flashbacks. It’s a much-used method, but in Fincher’s hands it’s seamless and almost new.
The flashbacks return Ben and Amy to their blissful days as well-to-do New Yorkers. Amy is a golden girl, the beneficiary of a trust fund filled up by the popular “Amazing Amy” children’s books that her parents wrote when she was child. Like her parents, she’s a writer. Ben writes, too, for a men’s magazine.
After a happy courtship and first few years of marriage in New York, everything goes south, all the way to Ben’s hometown in Missouri. Ben and Amy move there to be near his ailing mother.
Amy goes missing in Missouri. For Ben, her disappearance first inspires sympathy and then blazing scrutiny.
The story’s colorfully drawn supporting players include smart, small-town detective Rhonda Boney, played by Kim Dickens (“Treme”); Tyler Perry as celebrity attorney Tanner Bolt; Neil Patrick Harris as one of Amy’s ex-boyfriends; and Missi Pyle taking the cake as a Nancy Grace-style tabloid TV host.
Thanks to many intriguing elements and a deep talent pool behind and in front of the cameras, “Gone Girl” is poised for a big reception from critics and audiences.