I had the opportunity to attend a press screening of the 20th Century Fox movie, Gone Girl, based on the runaway bestseller of the same name by Gillian Flynn. The movie is one of the most anticipated of the fall season, and it more than lives up to expectations.
Director David Fincher, one of the most respected and successful directors in filmmaking (Se7en, Zodiac,, The Social Network), does a masterful job ratcheting up the tension in a movie where many of moviegoers already think they know what is going to happen and what the big twists are. I had a knot in my stomach as I watched, even I knew what was coming. That is talent.
Ben Affleck gives his best performance yet as Nick Dunne, a man who comes home to find a coffee table upturned and broken and his wife missing. He brilliantly shows us the different sides of Nick, who is all gray here; there is no black or white to him. Slowly we learn more about Nick and his marriage to the unhappy (or is it frightened?) wife Amy. We see the beginnings of their courtship and marriage, and where it stands five years later, amongst job losses, relocation and a family illness.
Rosamund Pike is genius casting. Amy is supposed to be a cipher, and having a more well known actress in the role may have changed the way the audience viewed Amy. Pike is fantastic, and there is already well-deserved Oscar buzz for her. She goes places you can't even imagine.
All of the casting is terrific. I love Carrie Coon, having first seen her on Broadway in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, where she shined in the role of the young professor's wife. I also love her in HBO's The Leftovers, and I hope more people get to see how talented she is playing the role of Nick's twin sister Margot.
Kim Dickens, another under-appreciated actress (HBO's Treme), is wonderful as Detective Rhonda Boney. She follows the clues where they go, trying to solve the case and not jump directly to conclusions as her young partner does.
Tyler Perry plays the Johnny Cochran-like lawyer who specializes in defending men who end up being publicly skewered on Ellen Abbott's cable news network show. (Missie Pyle plays a good Nancy Grace-like character.) For those who only know Perry from his comedies, he is surprisingly effective here. He knows how to own the screen when he is there.
Neil Patrick Harris is Desi Collings, a former boyfriend of Amy's who shows up on the scene. Why does he show up to help find Amy? Is he a suspect? The audience I saw the movie with laughed at some of Harris' lines that were meant to be creepy, not funny, but I think the fact that Desi is a wealthy playboy-type, is too close to a creepy version of his Barney Stinson character from How I Met Your Mother, and that may have confused some people.
Gone Girl is one fantastic popcorn movie. Even those who read the book will feel the tension and the performances are pitch-perfect. Gillian Flynn also wrote the screenplay and Fincher imbues the movie with such atmosphere; each detail is spot-on.
This is not a movie to take your fiancee to; what is has to say about marriage may frighten them. The media may not like it either; our fascination with filling the 24-7 news cycle with the torrid and tawdry details of people's tragedies should give us all pause. And beware- the twists and turns will make your head spin.
Visit the website for Gone Girlhere.
Watch the trailer here.