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‘Gone Girl’ Review : Expect to be Scott Howard at the 0:09 mark of ‘Teen Wolf’ for the duration

One of the best films of 2014

If you’ve heard anything about “Gone Girl” – either the book or the new film it’s inspired by – you know to expect to be Scott Howard at the 0:09 mark of “Teen Wolf” for the duration.

Though maybe not for the reasons you expect.

Things have gone from bad to worse for Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck, in really good form). After moving back to the Midwest from New York with trophy wife/writer Amy (Rosamund Pike), their happiness hits the skids, as do their careers.

After returning home from the profitless bar he runs with his sister (Carrie Coon), Nick is startled to discover that his house has been turned upside down and his wife missng. The authorities get involved and after finding traces of blood in the house, they declare a missing persons case.

Despite no body turning up, the townspeople are as quick to turn on Nick as the media is.

And that’s all I’m prepared to say.

And yes, there’s still two hours of movie to go.

Gillian Flynn’s sublimely smart thriller will take your breath away, but not because of – as the trailer suggests – a twisty, thrilling murder-mystery yarn. Instead, throat goes all air-deficient not because the eyes and senses are forced to confront something visually stirring but because of something less audible and intangible. The story profiles the Sith side of we humans – the darker, mostly-concealed side of our personalities.

The story gets as equally as credibly disturbing with it’s frighteningly realistic interpretation of a souring relationship and more, the game of projection and projectile pooh some fling when they’re unable to look within for happiness. The terror and tension in “Gone Girl” isn’t necessarily tied to an action, but an emotion.

Had “Gone Girl” been the film it’s marketing material presented itself to be (a murder-mystery.. that we’ve all seen before ) then David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Se7en”) unlikely would’ve been interested. If those IMDB credits of his are any indication,this is a filmmaker who seems much more fascinated with the motivation and make-up of his characters, than any particular action they may be responsible for. In each of his films, He explores the complexities of human behaviour, and is particularly interested with those that are easily influenced, manipulated or swayed to live a less than admirable life. Here, he paints everyone as somewhat of a villain – with the story not so much searching for a killer or kidnapper, as it does expose the warts behind our cover-up. So no, you’re not getting what you expect here – you’re getting something better.. something richer. This is a movie about the terror within.

This is not a movie about a missing woman – well, it is, but only on the surface – but a movie about the characteristics of that woman, as well as the characteristics of her husband, and the make-up of the townspeople that skew circumstance. Yes, there is a thrilling mystery at the center of the film, but it’s merely a carrier to deliver us to the real goods : what makes people tick.
Fincher is also using author (also screenwriter) Flynn’s story to show us how messed up the technological advancements of our world, coupled with disappearing privacy acts, have transformed us as people. Thanks to the social networks, the resurgence of tabloid-news style reporting, and the manipulative mechanisms of our times, there’s no real way for anyone to form their own opinion on their own. We’re sheep. We follow the flock.

There’s four star ingredients to this tasty cocktail : Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike (never been better; this is a star-making role for the “At World’s End” and “Pride and Prejudice” actress), Flynn’s deliciously dissimilar story, and Fincher – ever the master of amplifying coolness.

Like book-cum-film “American Psycho”, “Gone Girl” is a smartly-written satire in serious-chiller garb. This isn’t the “War of the Roses” meets “Fifteen Minutes” though, it’s a much more masterful film than both – it’s one that deserves much more than a simple comparison of similar titles by a critic. One of the best films of 2014.

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