There was so much hype about Gillian Flynn's novel "Gone Girl" that I had to read it. In full disclosure, I did not really enjoy the book --- something very unusual for me.
Thus, when all of the hoopla began surrounding the film adaptation, with the screenplay also by Flynn, I was less than enthused even though I happen to truly admire Ben Affleck and his acting.
So imagine my surprise --- my hugely pleasant surprise --- that I actually loved the movie! Affleck and Rosamund Pike are brilliant together. (She's so good --- David and I both loved her in the recent "Hector and the Search for Happiness".) Their acting styles complement one another, and their characters, Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott-Dunne. Their aloofness and haughtiness strike the right chords.
When Amy goes missing --- and this is what it's all about --- Nick explains her mannerisms away by stating she's from New York --- that says it all. And when the townspeople complain that Nick isn't acting like a bereaved husband, he counters that he's just being "nice" --- like he was raised to be by his dead mother.
"Gone Girl" has a lot going on --- disappearances, betrayals, mysterious clues and murder. Director David Fincher, who has a laundry list of very successful directorial efforts after his name, does a spectacularly masterful job keeping this script all together. His attention to detail is legendary, and he certainly makes no mistakes here.
The supporting cast is equally effective. Carrie Coon is fantastic as Margo "Go" Dunne, Nick's twin. Again, her character here is better drawn than in the book --- or Coon's performance simply makes "Go" more interesting --- and likeable.
One of Amy's former boyfriends, Desi Collings, is played by Neil Patrick Harris with twisted panache. His acting range is so varied it's remarkable. When Desi attempts to tell Amy to get herself back in shape, at one point, her reaction is chilling, but Desi is adamant --- and oh so creepy.
It's not an easy task to make a decent mystery/thriller --- let alone one that was such a widely-read, popular book. But Fincher, Flynn and the rest of the crew were definitely geared up for the project --- with a formidable end result.
Opinion: See It Now!
Ben Affleck is at his best when he's the underdog against all odds. In his newest film, "Gone Girl", directed by David Fincher, Affleck plays Nick Dunne whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) disappears under mysterious circumstances. There are signs of an intruder who may have entered their home, plus incriminating blood spatters. Naturally, he becomes the chief suspect in what evolves into a widespread media circus.
We know he's innocent, but the rest of the world has its doubts. When your face is plastered on the nightly news, most prominently by a Nancy Grace-like commentator named Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle), you are presumed guilty in the court of public opinion.
Amy has been the subject of "Amazing Amy", a best-selling children's book series written by her parents. She also happens to be quite beautiful, which immediately gains her sympathy in the public eye. What people don't know is that Nick is harboring a secret, and if that becomes common knowledge, his proclamations of innocence will be worthless.
"Gone Girl" is a terrific psychological thriller with great performances all around. Affleck shares the spotlight with an astonishing turn by Pike, one that should make her a household name. It's the kind of role that garnered Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar for "Monster" in 2003. Pike's character is the scariest screen female since Alex Forrest (Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction"). The delicate girl from "Pride & Prejudice" has come a long way.
Neil Patrick Harris plays an ex-flame of Amy's, Desi Collings. He was obsessively smitten with her while the two were in college. His part is small but pivotal, and allows him to showcase his tremendous versatility as an actor.
Fincher has quite impressive directorial credentials, including "The Social Network", "Zodiac" and "Fight Club". "Gone Girl" will achieve the same status as those outstanding movies. That's not to say this film is perfect. There is one major flaw I can't reveal, but in the context of a 2 1/2 hour film, I'm willing to overlook it. I can say it involves a miniature golf game --- leave it at that.
Other cast standouts are Tyler Perry as Nick's no-nonsense attorney, Tanner Bolt, and Kim Dickens as the detective who dogs Nick at every turn. Last but not least, Gillian Flynn, a former television critic for Entertainment Weekly, wrote the screenplay from her own novel. It sizzles!
Opinion: Strong See It Now!