review//GONE GIRL

Grade: A

Directed by David Fincher
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens

Every year there are a few movies that reach such a level of anticipation from audiences and critics that they are almost guarantees to fail at living up to the expectations. As David Fincher's Gone Girl edged closer to release critics were almost offering nothing but praise, meaning the film would either be one of the year's best or fall flat thanks to too much hype. Luckily for us, it's the former, not the latter. Gone Girl may take a little time to get going, but once your attention has been grabbed it never lets go.

Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a husband thrust into the spotlight after his beautiful wife goes missing. Based on the best-selling book by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl and Fincher seem to be taking the story in a very familiar route. It's a type of ripped-from-the-headlines trick that turns this mystery into something beyond what you'd expect. Affleck has never been better, offering a gritty and somewhat pretentious husband figure. Rosamund Pike deserves the bulk of the praise. As Amy Dunne, the missing wife, she becomes a character so interesting you can't help but be drawn in. The story progresses slowly at first, almost leaving you with a disappointed taste. By the time the second act begins, it's nothing but edge-of-your-seat twists and actions as the true story behind Amy's disappearance begins to unravel. Trust me, it's nothing you would expect.

Fincher's style is present here, from the camerawork, filters, and pacing, to a degree. We don't necessarily get some of the great cinematography of films like The Social Network or Se7en, but that seems to work in Gone Girl's favor. This is a true suburban tale and, set in the Midwest suburbia, everything works. At times I even felt like I was watching a TV show instead of a movie. That's meant to be a compliment. It remains intelligent and dark in the midst of highlighting some of life's lighter offerings.

While Fincher and the cast he's compiled (including Tyler Perry in a role I don't mind...which isn't the norm for me) work to perfection, it's the material that's the star. Flynn adapts her own book to the screen which means we're left with exactly what matters to the creator of the world we're watching. This story begins in a place we're all familiar with, but it never goes back there. It studies the idea of relationship and marriage in a way that is both unsettling and enlightening.

Gone Girl looks incredible and, despite its slow start, ends in a very satisfying way. It's not quite the masterpiece Fincher has turned out before, but it's a refreshing adventure at the movies completely worth the hand imprints you'll leave on the armrests. This is popcorn entertainment that isn't afraid to be smart.

Rating: R
Runtime: 149 minutes

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