Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) are celebrating their fifth anniversary. Unfortunately, Nick and Amy have been going through difficult times in their marriage. It started when the recession hit and both were laid off from their jobs. Nick moved Amy to Missouri to take care of his mother, who had cancer.
Nick has been dreading his wife’s annual scavenger hunt. She leaves clues for him that revolve around their relationship. In his mind, it is a way to showcase what a terrible husband he is. Nick heads to The Bar, the cleverly named bar he and his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) own, to have a drink before heading home to begin his day of torture.
Nick gets a call from a neighbor that their cat has gotten out of the house. He goes home to get his cat. When he gets home, things are not right. The front door is wide open. There are signs of a struggle in the living room. And Amy is nowhere to be found. Naturally, he calls the police to report what he has found. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) respond to the call and start checking out the scene.
As Amy’s parents (David Clennon and Lisa Banes) run a command center to help find their daughter, more and more evidence points toward foul play. And Nick becomes the prime suspect. Nick, desperate to prove his innocence, hires famed lawyer, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) to help improve his public image during the hunt, and clear his name.
Gone Girl is a thriller that throws twist after twist to keep the audience guessing. Unless, of course, you’ve read the book. In which case, you already know the ending. Or, if you read between the lines, it’s possible to figure out early on. Even if you know and/or guess the ending, it still makes for an enjoyable ride.
Ben Affleck plays Ben Affleck as the husband trying to figure out what has happened to his wife. Even if he isn’t exactly happy with his marriage. I mean that in the best possible way. His character doesn’t come across as forced or out of place. Ben’s character is very natural. Very, well, Ben Affleck. He obviously has bulked up for his upcoming stint as Batman, which is a little distracting. All of his clothes seem made for regular Ben Affleck.
Rosamund Pike does well in her role, also. She plays the doting wife who must react to the changing dynamic with her husband. And she does so convincingly. Neil Patrick Harris has a handful of roles that he plays. One is the goofy guy. One is the ladies’ man. And one is the creepy guy, and you’re not sure what is going on in his mind. All of which he sells expertly. In this movie, it’s the creepy guy. One of Amy’s ex-boyfriends. There is something unsavory with the relationship he and Amy had, but you don’t really know what happened between them until the moment is right. And if you’re not paying attention, you could miss a very important detail in their relationship.
Gone Girl doesn’t try to hide its commentary on the American media, and the American public’s reactions to stories of this sort. They become high-ratings spectacles, consuming everyone in every step. Camera crews are constantly following Nick, hoping to catch a photo of him. Trying to catch him making a misstep, anything that reveals the story behind the story. It is almost thrown in your face for the majority of the movie, but stops short of becoming off-putting.
Again, unless you’ve read the book, you won’t see everything coming, even if you figure out the ending. A few scenes may even make your jaw drop open. (For some, it may be the scene where “little Ben Affleck” makes an appearance. Yes, the rumors are true. Also easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.) It is a smart thriller that keeps moving so you don’t notice the two and a half hour run time.
A word of warning about the ending (which, I’m told, is fairly true to the book): You will leave feeling slightly unsatisfying, but realize there is really no other way it could have ended, and accept it for that. Or you will hate it. There is no real in between on this one.