Gone Girl (149 mins)
Director: David Fincher
Did Nick Dunne kill his wife? That’s the question at the heart of this slick, stylish, surprisingly funny thriller from one of the modern masters of the genre, David Fincher. Ben Affleck plays Nick, who comes home to find his house in disarray and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. As the police investigate her disappearance, Fincher and screenwriter Gillian Flynn (on whose novel the film is based) skillfully weave in the details of their relationship, from their romantic first meeting to the cracks that had recently begun to show in their marriage. This is far from a standard thriller, but one coated with a mordant wit that feels entirely authentic, a sort of everyday facetiousness that means it never slips into melodrama but remains consistently relatable even as the mood darkens. As secrets are revealed, Fincher tightens the knot mercilessly, then lets you catch breath again with a devilish wink, as the plot snakes in ways that are both audacious and entirely grounded in the characters. Affleck and Pike are tremendous, the former playing the whole thing behind a sardonic mask, and Pike asked to display many layers as audience empathy for both spouses is tested; she’s been great for years, but this is the role that’s going to turn her into a star. Also catching the eye is Kim Dickens as the lead detective on the case, and her interactions with Nick result in many of the funniest moments of a movie that also works as a satire on media intrusion and manipulation, as well as a microscope into a poisonous relationship. But this is very much Fincher’s film, creating that perfectly pitched tone and a handful of stunning moments and serving it all up with a visual sheen that just reeks of quality. It’s great to see a film aimed entirely at grownups, and anyone with a hankering for a brilliantly constructed slice of mainstream entertainment should find all their needs more than satisfied.