Gone Girl

Gone Girl ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.


Not necessarily misogynistic, but definitely unbalanced, in that it ultimately equates a philandering schmuck with a murderous sociopath, prodding us to conclude that they deserve each other. As a caustic portrait of marriage, I find it much less effective than The War of the Roses, which shades gradually into pitch-black comedy rather than relying on unreliable-narrator rug pulls. As an examination of the roles people half-heartedly play in relationships, it pales beside The Duke of Burgundy, indulging in cheap cynicism rather than acknowledging the difficulty of sincere effort. As a satire of media manipulation...actually, it's roughly on the same level as To Die For, so nicely done there. The two-and-a-half hours whiz by, but that's mostly a testament to first-rate pulp plotting and Fincher's sure hand (though this is easily his blandest film, formally speaking). What's missing—unless you're into blunt thesis statements à la "That's marriage!"—is a sense of deep and abiding regret. The film's emotional power should reside in the flashbacks, as that's the only opportunity for us to see Amy and Nick inhabiting projections of each other's ideal mate, but Flynn's structure dictates that nothing we see of their past is trustworthy (since Amy's diary is a fabrication from start to finish, even if the early entries are largely truthful), and neither Affleck nor Pike creates the impression of a mask following their meet-clever. There's little to mourn, in the end—no sense that Amy wasn't alone in feeling exhausted from her inability to be Amazing—and the movie's conclusion comes across as Basic Instinct's minus the ice pick, which can't have been anyone's intention.

Random notes that didn't fit into the above:

• Tyler Perry is as unexpectedly great as advertised, and should immediately abandon his empire to play more sardonic supporting roles.
• Neil Patrick Harris, on the other hand, is atrociously bad, though it's hard to say how much of that is his performance and how much is just the ludicrous character.
• Attention to detail: the number is 1-855-4AMYTIPS, not simply AMYTIPS, because the first digit in the main part of a phone number can't be a 1. (I confess that I spent like two minutes during the film trying to figure out what the '4' was doing there.)
• Ladies: If you're planning to hide out after framing your husband for your murder, be sure to disguise yourself as Laura Linney.

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