Gone Girl written by Gillian Flynn, directed by David Fincher (20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises, TSG Entertainment, R, 149 min)

Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Kim Dickens.

Celebrity Murder

Perhaps the most famous non-athlete from my alma mater in recent years is Amanda Knox. While studying abroad during her time at the University of Washington, her roommate met a tragic demise. As a prime suspect, the case against Amanda was never a slam dunk. The odd twists and turns and the multiple verdicts pushed the case further and further into the general consciousness of the public.

Funny how one case, among the multitudes drifting in anonymity, rises to general discourse. Ask anyone on the street and you’ll get an opinion. Those in our parts of the country probably side with Knox. She’s from Seattle and the judicial system abroad was always stacked against her. But ask anyone with a European leaning and they’ll say the opposite. Knox, the deviant, got away with murder.

What’s true? We may never know. But Knox certainly enjoys the benefits of such a popular case. Most people will never see the terms & conditions of a six-figure book contract, but she did. And such profits from such heinous circumstances adds more fuel to the fire.

We live in a society addicted to media.

This theme permeates David Fincher’s Gone Girl.

A Couple

The film explores a missing person case—from the buildup of a decaying marriage to the immediate aftermath with television cameras thrust in the faces of everyone of any consequence to the case. The story begins with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) receiving a phone call from a neighbor about a mysterious happening at home.

Upon arrival, Nick sees the coffee table overturned and his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is nowhere to be found. Immediately, Nick calls the cops and when Detective Bony (Kim Dickens) appears with an air of suspicion, Nick becomes the primary suspect.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about Nick as the investigation moves into full gear. He’s not the greatest around cameras and his desire to be nice to people continues to pull him down in the eyes of the media as pictures with single women pop up on social media. Especially when the case goes national.

For context, we also discover the ins and outs of Nick and Amy’s marriage through diary entries from Amy. We see the butterflies of first love; we unearth the marital strife that occurs when people lose jobs and move to flyover country from the posh existence they knew in Manhattan. Eventually, we discover the unraveling of a marriage to the point of potential harm.

The Protagonist/Antagonist

Having read the book on which this film was based, inevitable comparisons are drawn. One of the book’s key elements centers on how each character possesses deeply held flaws. To me, the film seems to paint more of a protagonist/antagonist picture.

And yet, my mother’s first comment about the film suggests the opposite. She felt that both characters look pretty poor. So maybe my feelings about the complexity of the book are shading what I’m seeing on the screen.

Despite this small criticism, Gone Girl is a dark yet highly entertaining film. It explores a missing person case and the media circus that orbits such cases. Nothing comes off well in the process. So go watch the film.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

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