“Gone Girl” presents a dark look at marriage in a brilliantly acted masterpiece

Alex Pelham

“Gone Girl” takes a lowbrow, clichéd formula — the tale of a missing wife whose sketchy husband most likely has something to do with her disappearance — and manages to analyze, satirize and give it new life in one magnificent, thought-provoking film. Director David Fincher, known for his cold, serious masterpieces, delivers a story that grows darker at every turn and features complex characters whose sinister motivations drive the film.

On his fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home to find his house a wreck and his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), missing. Soon, the media descends upon Nick’s small town to cover the disappearance, which has become national news. Nick’s awkwardness and anti-social qualities start to draw suspicion, leaving people to wonder whether he had something to do with the disappearance. With help from his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), and his lawyer, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), Nick works to prove his innocence to a society that has already decided he’s guilty.

The success of “Gone Girl” stems from the wonderful combination of Fincher’s directing and Gillian Flynn’s screenplay. Fincher, famous for his chilling, psychoanalytical films, delivers a story that delves into the darkness surrounding dysfunctional relationships. Flynn, who adapted the screenplay from her 2012 novel, creates characters who feel authentic and have mesmerizing interpersonal relationships.

The story, a bleak tale that constantly toys with audience expectations, is expertly crafted. It finds a perfect balance between Nick’s attempts to clear his name and the flashbacks that illustrate how such a happy marriage falls apart. 

The performances from every actor are superb. Affleck is wonderful as Nick, giving his character the edge of coldness and creepiness the film plays off of.

Coon is great as the cynical, sarcastic Margo. Even Neil Patrick Harris, who doesn’t have much screen time, is unnerving and creepy as Amy’s ex-boyfriend. 

But it is Pike who outshines everyone as the elusive Amy. Her performance captures the sweetness, cleverness and ruthlessness of her character. It’s remarkable how Pike can craft someone who can be simultaneously sympathetic and loathed. With a performance as emotional as hers, it will be interesting to see if Pike could walks away with any trophies this award season.

The movie isn’t afraid to tackle big issues — such as infidelity, psychopathy and media scrutiny — in the most brutal way possible. No faults or short-comings are spared as Fincher proves that no one is innocent in a story like this. “Gone Girl” easily turns into a puzzle, giving the audience the ability to wonder who’s really at fault for all the turmoil that occurs. 

“Gone Girl” is another staple in Fincher’s celebrated list of phenomenal films. It stands as one of the harshest, most chilling films about marriage and relationships to date. Using a combination of brilliant acting, meticulous directing and a deep, complex screenplay, “Gone Girl” remains the movie to beat in 2014.