Clocking in at 149 minutes, Gone Girl is yet another piece of epic filmmaking from director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network). Not that it’s a chore to sit through. The suspense is so thick, the film never feels bloated. Rather, the movie comes off as if it’s two separate films— while the first act is definitely stronger than the second, that’s not to say it’s a failure. Rather, Fincher, working off a screenplay that Gillian Flynn based on her own novel by the same name, captures the strange twists and turns at the story’s core.
As the movie commences, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) stops at the bar he owns with his sister Margo (Connie Coon) for a few quick late morning drinks. It’s his anniversary and he just needs to vent. His sister, who we quickly learn isn’t the biggest fan of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), feels his pain. When he heads back home, he discovers that his wife is missing and it appears as if she’s been kidnapped. He quickly calls the cops and offers to cooperate, subjecting himself to ardent questioning and even vacating his home so a thorough investigation can take place. As the search continues, it becomes increasingly obvious that Nick is a suspect in what appears to be a serious crime. This portion of the film is incredibly suspenseful, particularly since we just don’t know what to believe. Nick doesn’t seem like a killer but his story just doesn’t add up.
But mid-film, the movie takes a turn and we learn that things aren’t what they seem. This half of the movie isn’t as interesting. It turns to satire — the alleged murder becomes a media spectacle as Nick hires celebrity lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) to try to save his ass. Talk show hosts weigh in and offer their take on the crime. TV trucks camp outside of Nick’s home. It’s all a bit ridiculous.
Fincher’s a true master, however, and he keeps the twists and turns from spiraling out of control. It helps that Affleck and Pike are both terrific in their roles. Coon has a breakout performance too as she makes Margo into the movie’s most sympathetic character.