Gone Girl

gone-girl-poster

Gone Girl
Release date: October 31, 2014 (India)
Directed by: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Ratajkowski, Missi Pyle

Right in the middle of the first act of the film, Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) asks Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) if his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) is the Amazing Amy in her ‘private workspace’ in their house, adorned with pictures from the line of books her parents started to mirror the failures of her growing up years and reflect them as moments with tweaked outcomes. Amy in real life failed to get in the volleyball team, while the Amazing Amy got in. She passively resents this perfect universe, all through her life.

Gone Girl begins with two lines from Nick about his wife Amy, they start off cutely and the second line throws you off right then. It churns your stomach even before the opening titles roll. On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick heads to his own bar, where he talks to his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) how he still hasn’t figured out one of Amy’s gift clues for over two years. He returns home to find his wife missing.

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Detective Boney arrives on the scene to investigate her disappearance and takes Nick in for questioning. Over these questions, and through a media campaign kicked off to find Amy, it becomes a public fact that Nick is a sociopath who soon transcends into becoming suspect number one. The media vilifies him as the evil murderer of a poor, little, lonely housewife. His only respite is Margo and Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), the self-annointed savior of husbands-in-distress all over America.

The entire Nick-Amy love story is told from the entries in Amy’s diary. Sometimes with a blue pen, and on special occasions in red ink. These entries define the dynamic of their relationship, at least from her perspective. The initial setup of the film is that of an unaware Hitchcockian whodunnit. Slow, brooding, and unraveling, right until the reveal. If the film had gotten over at this point, I would be complaining. But it did not, and I am not complaining much. From this point on, the storytelling spotlights start focusing on Amy. Her apparent stalker ex-boyfriends, and their somewhat similar fates.

Gone Girl is many things at the same time. It’s Amy’s hatred for everything perfect, it’s the imperfect transgressional husband who’s enjoys reality TV, but doesn’t know how to react in reality TV situations. The cute couple that everyone envies, tearing apart secretly. A commentary on marriage and the easy manipulation of the media. It’s a place where you wouldn’t want to live, just linger on and guffaw and part amaze at.

There are more plot points that I could discuss, but kill me with a box cutter if I do. Honestly, I hadn’t even watched a trailer before watching the film. That’s how I like to preserve some mystique around movies these days. Gone Girl would prove to throw you off, even if you know what’s about to happen next. It’s the execution that’s so masterful, it appears infallible.

Ben Affleck wallows in self-righteousness in a character which is very close to that of a gullible, ordinary, out-of-job suburban husband. He drinks during the day, he walks around in the same shirt for a good chunk of the film and yet is pitiable. Rosamund Pike is psychotically in control of her disconnected, metaphorically levitating Amy. She is the Amazing Amy. Missi Pyle is on-the-mark as the shrieking Nancy Grace figure who’s out on a witch-hunt.

Tyler Perry lights up the screen right from his first appearance, providing the cool factor surprisingly with his outsider viewpoint on the entire situation. Should he venture out more? Nick’s stumbling and vulnerable voice of reason is his twin played by Carrie Coon, who represents how you as a spectator would feel at discovering the intricacies of Amy and Nick’s lives. And a bit subsided by the end, Kim Dickens as the hoarse-voiced Missourian fair detective keeps making you doubt who is guilty after all.

David Fincher’s creation of this universe is entertaining even after it stops being surprising and thrilling.

“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with.” would keep me hooked and it should do that to you as well.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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