Contrary to the belief of some, it is entirely, 100% possible to review Gone Girl — or basically any movie — without spoiling it. You can sound like you’re not being lazy by saying you really need to spoil it to address the key points, but that’s not true at all. You just aren’t putting in the effort. Yes, this applies even to movies with multiple twists, some of them game-changing. Gone Girl has many twists and many of them completely flip things around. No, I won’t spoil them.
As those who have seen the trailer can attest to, Gone Girl opens with a pretty simple premise: A man, Nick (Ben Affleck), returns home to find his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), missing. He calls the cops, an investigation is launched, and then the attentions of the investigators turn toward him. He’s seen as the prime suspect, thanks to him not acting all sad and mournful for the cameras, and because of certain bits of evidence that makes the disappearance case look more like a covered-up homicide. He’s also kind of a jerk and an idiot.
The film tackles the way that the media can influence the public opinion. A Nancy Grace-like character (Missi Pyle) flat-out says that Nick killed his wife — before a motive, murder weapon, or body had been found or even suspected. And then the twists come. The audience learns some things before characters do. Things we thought were true earlier in the film aren’t. The whole thing is depraved and a little bit disturbing. Then more twists are added, other characters introduced, and then 150 minutes have passed and the credits have rolled and you stop watching meditate on a dark and intelligent piece of cinema.
Gone Girl is rich, but easy to understand and keep track of everything. It has a ton of ideas for you to think about as it plays and after it concludes. Its characters are deep and interesting. A lot of this credit deserves to go to Gillian Flynn, who wrote the book on which the movie is based, as well as the screenplay. And then there’s the director, David Fincher, who makes this film fit in perfectly with his other movies. It is beautiful and disturbing.
It’s true that some of Gone Girl‘s most interesting, insightful, and discussion-worthy topics come in the form of spoilers. More critical articles will be devoted to them. We’ll look at this film as a way to examine suburban life, marriage, and the media. And it does a good job at critiquing all of that. You’ll come away from it thinking of all of these things, and forming opinions of all the characters in this film. They feel real enough that you can discuss them and their actions as if they are.
And yet, the film’s plot is preposterous and silly — at least, when you get right down to it. See Gone Girl (because you really should), and then write out a plot synopsis. Give that plot synopsis to someone, not telling them what it is, and they’ll laugh at you. It’s because of the skill of the filmmakers that it comes across as well as it does as it’s playing. It’s serious, dark, and its themes keep you thinking of them, not how silly the plot ultimately is.
I’ve only rarely been a fan of Ben Affleck as an actor, and while he doesn’t turn in the best performance ever here, he does put in some serious effort. Would someone else have been better? Sure, maybe, but Affleck is up to the task. Rosamund Pike is a revelation in her role as the wife, and if there’s any acting award nominations coming from Gone Girl, she’ll be the recipient. Neil Patrick Harris does a lot with a small role, Tyler Perry somehow transforms into a wonderful actor here, and Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens round out the primary cast.
Gone Girl reminds us that there is nobody better at turning dark, disturbing, but also kind of silly material into a serious and great thriller than David Fincher. Its ideas come from its writer, Gillian Flynn, and a lot of the credit deserves to go to the actors, too, but Fincher has created yet another really solid entry into his filmography with Gone Girl. You’ll be entertained for its two and a half hours, and come away thinking about it for hours, or maybe even days, afterward.