Gone Girl ***1/2

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“Gone Girl” is a truly diabolical thriller. There are plot developments here that were mind blowing. No I have not read the book in case you were laughing at me for being behind the curve. I went in to this knowing nothing of what happens. Director David Fincher and writer Gillian Flynn have crafted a thriller that leaps beyond what is usually possible in this genre and becomes a mediation on dishonesty, unhappiness and a truly corrupted media.

I can’t delve to deeply in to the plot without giving away some major twists. The basic outline starts as a story about a man whose wife mysteriously dissappears and the subsiquent investigation that follows. The first act of the film balances a basic police procedural with a real moral drama. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, the husband in question. Nick is not what you would call a moral person. He is’t truly despicable either which makes his case a bit of a dilemma to the police as well as us the audience. His wife is Amy, played by Rosamund Pike. Did he murder his wife or is there more sinister forces at work here? I cannot say more.

The twists are a complete blindside when they happen. If you have not read the book then you will be truly shocked. What interested me more was the general atmosphere that Fincher and witer Gillian Flynn create. Nick finds himself at the center of a media storm that has pretty much found him guilty. Eventually clues lead the police to find him guilty as well. A lot of the movie challenges our perception of people compared to the media’s perception of of the same people. Not a lot of thrillers incorporate themes like this.

Another factor in this movie is the economy, which has affected the lives of the main characters in some devastating ways. Nick and Amy’s marriage starts out perfect but finds that it starts to fracture when Nick loses his job and they move back to his home town. Amy, being a big city girl struggles with this greatly. A lot of this we learn as the film cuts back and forth between present time and some of the events in this couple’s past.

“Gone Girl” challenged me in many ways. A lot of that is due to director David Fincher, who brings this book to life beautifully. He doesn’t hold back on some of the more difficult elements. Gillian Flynn who wrote the sreenplay also happens to be the writer of the book. This benefits greatly as i’m sure the author’s vision was not compromised during the transition from page to screen.

The cast here is as strong as they come. Ben Affleck is fearless at playing Dunne as deeply flawed but still a some what good person. Rosamund Pike is unforgettable in ways that I cannot discribe without spoilers.

Tyler Perry plays Tanner Bolt, a high powered attorney who goes to work for Nick. It is nice to see Perry in a role that can show off his real talent playing characters who are focused and intelligent. Neil Patrick Harris shows up in a creepy role as a former lover of Amy. Harris is starting to find roles lately that play to his strengths as an actor. He was funny in “A Million Ways To Die In The West” and here he is completely opposite as an odd and disturbing millionaire.

“Gone Girl” contains a lot of intelligence which is uncommon in modern thrillers. It could simply have been dumbed down in to a cat and mouse game. Action is traded for real drama and suspense. When the violence happens it is sudden and comes from the plot which has real stakes. This is one of the best movies of the year.

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