And if that girl only hope is you, well, I pray for her, because she’s gone, girl. Gone.
I wanted to start my review by setting it to the tune of “My Favorite Things”, but after “Fincher and Affleck” I felt like every combination I made up did not really work. So, you’re welcome for me not putting you through that. The appeal of using a ditty like that comes from a desire to condense my review into bite-sized morsels. “Reznor’s tense music” seems a lot easier than discussing how the minimalist score made this low on action film seem extremely tense. It was a psychological thriller with the power of Zodiac without a face of evil. I chose that comparison because Zodiac is my favorite David Fincher film and *FAKE SPOILER ALERT* the Zodiac killer never gets caught. In fact, Fincher cast multiple actors to embody the killer to throw us off the scent and to demonstrate that while he might personally believe that so-and-so was the Zodiac Killer, he was not the only potential suspect.
Herein Fincher calls upon his main two actors, Ben Affleck—Argo—and Rosamund Pike—Jack Reacher—as Nick and Amy Dunne, to play multiple versions of themselves. I find that reversal fascinating. On one level, it is the most obvious thing for an actor, one who pretends to be someone whom he or she is not, to show different versions of themselves, but that does not mean that it is easy to pull off. That neither Nick nor Amy were particularly likable fits into Fincher’s wheelhouse. Did you like Mikael Blomkvist or Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Did you like either of the co-creators of The Social Network? I know that I hated Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker. Did you like even one character in Fight Club? The only truly likable character in Se7en winds up with her head in a box. Yes, that’s “what’s in the boxxxxxx!”
The likable characters, in this film, come in the background. Nick’s sister, Margo, played by Carrie Coon, is a single woman in her late thirties who looks and acts like a single woman, not some sort of sitcom version of what that is. She is supportive, but not as sap. Her life is not perfect, but she is not a sad sack. Tyler Perry hits a triple as Tanner Bolt, Esq., defense attorney to the CNN famous clients of this world. He is excellent as an actor in a way that eclipses his skills as a director. Kim Dickens steals the show as Detective Rhonda Boney. I could not recognize her without a ridiculous hat on her head, as she always was in “Deadwood”. Her performance was a dramatic version of Frances MacDormand’s in Fargo. Her slightly less competent partner, played by Patrick Fugit, kind of annoyed me, but he may have been necessary to appreciate Boney. Neil Patrick Harris was slightly miscast as Amy’s high school boyfriend, because when he first appears in the film and Nick sees him, I assumed that Nick recognized him, so someone less visually flamboyant may have been better. Harris’ performance was excellently creepy, though. Missi Pyle—a parent from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—killed it as fake Nancy Grace. I like Missi Pyle, and would have punched her in the face. So the background characters were hateable too!
Affleck and Pike both took excellently written characters and brought them to life in extremely human ways. Sure, those characters were jerks, but hopefully they get the recognition they deserve for such performances. I have been recommending this film right and left to people that I know. More than any conscious analysis that shows me just how much I enjoyed this film. I cannot wait for the sequel, Gone Girl 2: Goner Girl. But who will play the girl and will she truly be a goner? I have no idea since I just made that up. On some level that seems oddly appropriate.