With Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris.
The author Gillian Flynn developed tension in her novel about a woman, who on her fifth anniversary, goes missing. Evidence of her husband’s involvement in a crime, perhaps murder, is rampant. The couple who should be celebrating five years of marriage it turns out are ruing the day. Fincher faithfully adapts the story of a spoiled marriage, partly thanks to Gillian Flynn’s screenplay. Amy and Nick are both more and less than what they seem, which means that as in any marriage, as true natures are revealed, disillusion sets in, and the question is how you carry on.
For Amy, who grew up as the real life basis of a fictionalized series of children’s books (Amazing Amy) written by her parents, the construction of an imaginary life is second nature to her. For Nick, Amy was a fantasy from the beginning. A reality check was bound to happen, and he turns out to be a very ordinary guy with ordinary lusts and a much younger girlfriend on the side.
As in the book, when the author turned her eye to the social context in which all of that disillusionment is taking place, compelling things happen. For instance, people Amy meets at a trailer park are authentically in need of a different life, not just unhappily married middle class folks in need of better lovers. I am glad that the movie includes scenes in the closed malls where the homeless have gone to live. The social context gives the movie gravitas.
Fincher tells his story in a straightforward way, and the actors are all excellent. Gillian Flynn’s screenplay works well but I missed certain characters, especially the wife of the defense attorney who was strategic member of the team and part of a successful marriage. The way the press can convict a suspect — how our perceptions of things are more important than reality– is central to the movie. The supporting characters stand out for their authenticity, especially in the scenes away from the perfect suburb in the midwest where Amy and Nick have settled after their careers flamed out in New York.
I wouldn’t want to end the review without mentioning Neil Patrick Harris who plays a man in love with a doll who he gets to dress and put in his doll house. It is creepy. The story of Gone Girl is about what is real, and what we make up in our heads.