By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

David Fincher–and I mean this as a compliment–has an astounding talent for presenting psychopathy and sociopathy on film magnificently.  His movies Seven, Fight Club, and Zodiac are prime examples of this ability.  He also sure knows how to select intelligently written stories to adapt for the big screen.  His latest movie, Gone Girl, can now be added to this esteemed list of movies to fall under these categories.  Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, Fincher has made another astounding and startling film about a missing person investigation. Not only do I consider this movie to be one of Fincher best films, I consider it to be one of the best of this year.

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star as Nick and Amy Dunne.  Their meeting, courtship and marriage may as well be the epitome of romance.  On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find signs of a struggle and Amy missing. A police investigation soon follows with several signs and clues leading the detectives to consider Nick as a suspect.  As the police further investigate into the marriage of Nick and Amy, they reveal more details about the woes of these sweethearts.  More clues and the media circus surrounding the investigation begin to take their toll on the public perception of Nick.  This causes Nick to reflect on his marriage and the events leading up to Amy’s disappearance when he comes to a shocking realization.

I must say that I was truly floored and blown away by this movie.  Fincher and Flynn, who adapted her own novel for the screen, have made a master work with Gone Girl.  They have taken what appears on the surface as a typical mystery thriller, and have done so much more with it than I had anticipated.  The film does an outstanding job of realistically portraying people at their best and their worst.  The film has so many complex layers and transcends not only genres, but also audience expectations.  Fincher and Flynn lead and mislead their audience through a dark and twisted journey, and just when the audience thinks they have it all figured out, they get knocked on their asses. Their story and script is that brilliant!

The writing definitely is relevant to modern times in that it satires and critiques media circus coverage of major crimes.  CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and the bloodsucking tendencies these news networks have when it comes to similar high profile stories and how they shape public perception of events are all sagaciously portrayed, mocked and shamed in the movie. Human nature is put on the trial and the verdict is quite ugly.

The director and writer have also done an exceptional job developing their characters completely and the cast portraying them is truly stupendous.  For those wary of Ben Affleck and his often iffy acting abilities, do not walk into this movie with that trepidation.  Affleck skillfully and carefully gets it right.  Fincher gets some great performances out of him that work perfectly for the type of character Nick is.  The lovely and talented Rosamund Pike deserves award nominations for her acting here.  She really is the star of this film.  She also offers some lovely voice-over work as the narrator of the movie.  Gone Girl also has some great performances by Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Missi Pyle and Casey Wilson.

As dark and disturbing as the material can be, I also found myself laughing.  The movie has a razor sharp and wicked sense of humor. This film and Nightcrawler have that element in common.  When Nightcrawler opens at the end of this month, I would definitely recommend watching both films together as a double feature. Both are superb, biting satires that will leave audiences shocked and breathless.  I wouldn’t wait to go see Gone Girl, thought.  It really is one of the most amazing films this year and I sincerely hope it gets all the attention and accolades it deserves.


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