All this weeks Web Extra Articles
All this weeks Web Extra Articles
“Gone Girl” Gives you a Run for your Money
By Michael S. Goldberger
Even the twists have turns in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” an extremely well written sleuther about a woman who goes missing. Starring Rosamund Pike as the lady who mysteriously vanishes and Ben Affleck as her flummoxed husband, this film will have you guessing right up until the closing credits and beyond. It’s the thinking person’s whodunit. Not simply content to have you figure out the puzzle, the highly sophisticated thriller also sprinkles the scenario with all sorts of emotionally compelling life issues that demand pondering. Yep, this is a good one.
In a prologue scene that initiates in the bar Ben Affleck’s Nick Dunne owns with his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon), Nick reflects on the courtship, joys and complexities of his marriage to Amy, superbly played by Rosamund Pike. Today is their fifth anniversary. But no ordinary surprise gift awaits upon his return home. Instead, things are eerily in disarray, as if there had been a struggle. A blood smear here and there seconds the opinion. Nick calls the police.
Detective Rhonda Boney, portrayed by Kim Dickens, isn’t one to jump to conclusions. Possessing the downhome sort of conjecture and anecdotal patter Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson evinced in “Fargo” (1996), she neither accuses nor exonerates, at least not right away. Oh…just to make things a little more interesting, be apprised that Amy is the famous “Amazing Amy,” the much loved real-life model for the children’s book series her parents wrote.
In short, it’s high profile stuff, and the traveling media circus popularizing the heartache, gossip and ugliness that’s become an American pastime soon lands in North Carthage, Mo., the little burg where the pair moved in order to care for Nick’s sick mom. In time, the press as well as the court of public opinion grow antsy. The clues begin to pile up, albeit curiously, and still no Amy. It starts to look bad for Nick. We’re repeatedly reminded that Missouri has the death penalty.
Hence, quicker than you can say Johnnie Cochran, Nick hires celebrity lawyer Tanner Bolt, etched with droll conviction by Tyler Perry. Parodying the thought that we’ve become a nation of rubberneckers, they do the talk show circuit, where the carefully coached husband sings the blues and assures his undying love for the cause célèbre.
By this time, we are adrift and at a total loss as to what gives, a feeling director Fincher, working from the nomination-worthy screenplay by author Gillian Flynn, repeatedly engenders with devilish success. Just as deceitful as some of his characters may or may not be, he feels no obligation to play fair, causing us suspense-heightening frustration. One grows wary. When he does unveil so-called truths meant to sway our opinion, we suspect they may be infected with a virus that can instantly mutate to cause a contradicting viewpoint.
Meanwhile, while we’re scratching our heads and furrowing our brows, the depicted deceptions, treacheries and hypocrisies, essentially mirroring nothing less than what we’re regularly treated to on the nightly news, give us philosophical pause. Tellingly dramatized so well here, it is hammered home that we’ve become absurdly inured to the bad behavior perpetrated by both culprits and a scandal-hungry public. As the lines blur between the players on “reality” shows and our everyday lives, the general rules of decency are muddied in direct proportion.
Compounding the moral and investigatory miasma, the storyline, which adroitly moves between the present and a steady supply of flashbacks that fill us in on the now famous duo’s chronology, introduces a couple of Amy’s ex-beaus. Neil Patrick Harris is a real piece of work as rich boy Desi Collings, an old prep school pal.
Point of disclosure: I’m terrible at figuring out these things and am always amazed that someone can conjure such deception and intrigue. Do they begin at the end? So, when some cloak and dagger enthusiasts at the gym eagerly inquired if there were hints along the route, I informed I wasn’t sure, and anyway, that’s not quite how it works. This is a tale of human behavior: everything is a clue.
More to the point, what’s most beguiling about this saga of right and wrong is not who did what and why, but rather the gradations of good and evil folks rummage through in attempting to mine some absolute truth. It’s the relativity of the gray area as Einstein might have called it had he forsaken physics for a study of ethics. All of which is my fancy way of informing that filmgoers looking for a real lollapalooza of a mystery will find it in “Gone Girl.”
“Gone Girl,” rated R, is a Twentieth Century Fox release directed by David Fincher and stars Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck and Carrie Coon. Running time: 149 minutes