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This Is Fucked Up, Fucked Up

I've watched some strange, disturbing and messed up movies in my time. From the Saw series and Human Centipede: Full Sequence, to this year's God's Not Dead, I'd like to think that there isn't a whole lot that can honestly get under my skin and have me shaken. Leave it to director David Fincher and first-time screenwriter Gillian Flynn to have, what I feel, is the final word on watching a fucked-up movie.

Gone Girl is not just your standard kidnapping thriller/whodunit murder mystery. Calling it twisted and disturbing really doesn't do the film justice. All I can say is that what you see in two hours and twenty-five minutes will shock you and have your jaw hit the ground. Based on the bestselling novel by Flynn herself, Gone Girl begins innocently enough (well, about as innocent as a Fincher movie does): Nick Dune (Ben Affleck) comes home in preparation for his wife, Amy's (Rosamund Pike) five-year anniversary, only to discover his wife is missing. He calls the police to help find his missing wife, only to end up a suspect in her wife's disappearance. The quest to find Amy turns into a side-show spectacle, as the narrative begins to form that Nick himself killed his wife, after it's learned he's a cheating bastard, that there was blood on the floor that was poorly mopped up, and that she left behind a diary, chronicling how unhappy in her marriage she was, how frightened she was of her husband, to the point that she says, "this man of mine may kill me," the last lines written in the book. A high-powered layer (Tyler Perry, yes that Tyler Perry from those awful Madea comedies) represents Nick as he fights the allegations in the media and the authorities that he did not commit murder, while trying to piece together Amy's special scavenger hunt she planned for the anniversary before the detective on the case, Rhonday Boney (Kim Dickens) compiles enough evidence to arrest him on suspicion of murder.

And that's all I'm going to say about the plot. The rest would enter spoiler territory, and I'm no snitch. What I will say is that when this calendar year for movies ends in under 50 days and I compile my list of the best films of 2014, this mesmerizing tale of a toxic marriage in the Great Recession will be right near the top. Let's start with the script by Gillian Flynn and the direction by Fincher: the coldness of these characters and Fynn's screenplay more than matches the uncomfortable and chilly atmosphere David is best known for. Both work in tandem so well; Gillian, exposing the decay of a marriage based on false facades, Fincher taking that premise onto his canvas and expanding it to matching today's tragedy-porn obsession with the Nancy Grace's of the world (equating it to nothing more than an extension of trash TV) and an economy where everyone is getting screwed over. Not since 2010's The Social Network have I seen a film where screenwriter and director have been in near-perfect symmetry. Of course, the flow can only be as good as the actors who take on the words on the page, and the acting is spot on. Ben Affleck is excellent as the husband who exudes charm, only to hide how much of an empty bastard he really is. Carrie Coon (Nora on HBO's The Leftovers) is equal parts smart-ass and Nick's voice of reason as his twin sis Margo; Neil Patrick Harris gives his best performance to date as Desi, the creepy stalker from Amy's past; and surprise, surprise - Tyler Perry is perfect as Nick's savvy shark lawyer who lives for cases such as his. But it's Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne who takes the role of the missing wife and completely steals the show. I can't say much (again due to spoilers), but I can say is that performance deserves an Oscar. Not just a nomination, but an actual Oscar statue in her hands. It is, to me, far and away, the performance of the year.

Gone Girl is a dark, icy, twisted and mercilessly fucked up crime-thriller/pitch black comedy that doesn't pull any punches and leaves no character unscathed in it's path. It's also one of 2014's very best.

**** stars out of ****


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