Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★★★½

From the Greeks, to Shakespeare, to Woody Allen, marriages fraught with problems have been the subject of great works of theatre, literature, and film. With "Gone Girl," David Fincher takes on that very subject with exacting skill. Based on Gillian Flynn's novel, Fincher's film stares down the much mused-upon institution, punctuating that observation with the marks of a police procedural, thriller, and social statement. Whether "Gone Girl" deserves placement in the canon of great marriage-related works is still to be decided, but the film is quite clearly a powerful, well-assembled, and engrossing drama.

The narrative of "Gone Girl" centers around the search for a missing woman. While her husband maintains his innocence in the matter, the world turns against him, branding him as dangerous and potentially murderous. As the plot winds toward its climax, truth reveals the story's dark corners and twisted villains.

On the surface, "Gone Girl" is a kidnapping mystery with overtones of a thriller. The superficial excitement and violence, however, dissipate to reveal story about image, storytelling, and, of course, marriage. The script generates a deep and sharp tale with thematic vibrance, and it is built to compel.

Fincher puts together a production that ideally complements the story and script. Compositions are clean but lively; landscapes are welcoming yet foreboding. There is coolness to the film's aesthetic that juxtaposes its passions. Fincher weaves the film's look, crisp editing, and ethereal score together for something electric and icy.

Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck play the married couple at the center of the film's plot in performances that slip subtly from quiet authenticism to heightened stylization. The two fittingly carry out the demands of both the fairy tale of the meet-cute and honeymoon and the reality of ever after. The supporting cast is uniformly sharp and well-chosen.

Combining a compelling and cutting story, a robust production, and well-rendered performances, "Gone Girl" results in a near-mesmerizing experience. The expertly crafted drama pops with tension and thematic suggestion for film that is rich and relevant. As cynical and diabolical as it may be, it is effortlessly absorbing.

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