Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★★★

David Fincher has a fetish for taking complex novels of suspense and intrigue and turning them into delightfully dark and twisted tales that make damn good cinema. He did it with Fight Club and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and he's now done it with Gone Girl, the "it" novel of 2012.

Ostensibly a simple story of a wife that vanishes mysteriously under suspicious circumstances, it expertly weaves parallel and divergent narratives through multiple twists and alternative time-lines while skewering the "trial-by-the-media" culture and the real-life horrors of mid-life marriage angst.

Ben Affleck is perfectly cast as Nick Dunne, the protagonist/antagonist husband of the missing wife. The book/movie works so well because Affleck's character is very hard to pin down. He's flawed but like-able, clueless but clever. Rosamund Pike is excellent but to reveal more would be a spoiler.

Fincher even works magic with the minor characters. Who would have thought of Neil Patrick Harris as a creepy-manipulative sad-sack stalker.

Carry Coon, a standout in the HBO series The Leftovers, plays Nick's sister and the audience's voice of reason when you just want to scream "Nick, you freaking idiot!"

It's not always perfect. Affleck is obviously buffing up for his upcoming role as Batman with bulging shoulders/biceps that are juxtaposed in tight shirts with his character's slovenly "pot-belly." Another character goes from thin to over-weight in just a few days while trying to go incognito.

It also seems to struggle to figure out how/when wrap things up. These are all "nits" as the story churns in your head as the credits roll which is the true test of excellent film-making.

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