Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★★★

Gone Girl is a thriller of layers. Not just the intricate layers of the main plot, which centers around a man named Nick, whose wife Amy disappears on their anniversary. Like any good thriller, this film sets up its world, its characters, and the central narrative, before turning everything on its head and shaking it about. Instead of spending the film trying to find his wife, Nick is quickly implicated in her disappearance. The story masterfully plays with director David Fincher's recurring themes of guilt and judgment, strumming the audiences' sympathies like guitar strings. Whether you believe Nick innocent or guilty at any given point is entirely up to the filmmakers. As far as the performances go, I've never hated Ben Affleck like many do, but he isn't a very strong actor and that doesn't change here. However, his rather weak performance, bolstered by his easy charm, is the key to the film, because Nick isn't a very strong person. Instead, Rosamund Pike gets to steamroll over the picture as his wife Amy, whose story is mostly told through flashbacks. Pike is incredible and haunting here, and this film will likely make her a household name. Rounding out the cast you get great turns from Carrie Coon as Nick's no-nonsense sister, Kim Dickens as the hard-nosed cop on the case, along with a very distracting Neil Patrick Harris, once again playing fictional Neil Patrick Harris, and a surprisingly good Tyler Perry, out of the fat suit and proving he can act.

That's all just the surface layer however, because Fincher's best work always has deeper, meatier levels to it. With Gone Girl, Fincher doesn't just attack modern media, he slits its throat with a box-cutter. From the rhetoric filled rantings of a talk show host, to the ravenous hoards of newsmen, to the mob-mentality of social media, Fincher leaves no stone unturned in his quest to fillet the circus that is our information age.

However, Fincher is a little outdone on this one, because there is a further layer still, this one provided by author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn, whose work I now greatly look forward to exploring. There is an ongoing story beat about Nick feeling victimized by the women in his life. He feels inferior to his rich wife and her high powered mother, he relies on the advice of his sister, he is being investigated by a female cop, accused by a female neighbor, and berated publicly by a female talk show host. Gone Girl is set in a world in which women have all the power and the poor little men just have to keep their heads down. What Flynn has done here is to reverse of the world as we know it, she has taken the patriarchy and twisted it. In our world, women are blamed for being victims while men are glorified for being monsters, in Flynn's world men get to see what things are like on the other side of the coin and her portrayal and depiction of this timely and important bit of commentary is nothing short of genius. Whichever level of Gone Girl you choose, you have a real winner, be it a witty bit of pro-feminist morality, a sadly accurate depiction of media-based group-think, or just as a straight, visceral, thriller, Gone Girl is a winner on every level.

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