I went expecting to “praise Caesar”, but he never appeared. You see a lot of Brutus, but even if he was wrongly put on death row, it was hard to care if he lived or died.
With Gone Girl, Director David Fincher has finally found the perfect role for Ben Affleck. He is devoid of any humor or meaningful emotion, playing a guy who is morose, sullen and extraordinarily confused. It is role found in heaven for an actor largely devoid of any meaningful talent.
I know that sounds a bit nasty, but Affleck is the ideal character to be wrongfully suspected of murder. Gone Girl is a searing drama centering on the disappearance of a wife and suspicion surrounding the husband. It quickly became a whodunit when its length caused me to have considerable trouble caring who did it.
Don’t get me wrong, as the movie has some expected great strengths. Director Fincher has brought us some glorious films in the past ranging from Se7en (1995); Fight Club (1999); The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and the celebrated The Social Network (2010). Nonetheless, while the suspense in Gone Girl increasingly leaves you riveted to your seat, it descends into madness that Mr. Fincher asks the viewer to accept. Quite honestly, I was left thinking, “Are you kidding me?”.
The heart and soul of this film comes from extraordinary performances by several actresses. Let’s start with Rosamund Pike, playing the missing spouse, Amy Dunne. She is superior as a wife forced to accompany her husband from New York to his hometown in Missouri as her writing career collapses and her accumulated fortune starts to disappear. Though she gradually devolves into a demonic force who embraces pain with a Satanic joy, she is as captivating as she is monstrously unlikable.
Adding power to the film are the performances of Carrie Coon as Affleck’s sister Margo and Kim Dickens as Homicide Detective Rhonda Boney. Margo is everything her brother is not, namely intelligent, caring and sensible. Detective Boney, who is leading the investigation concerning Ms. Pike’s disappearance, is a bright detective who is hard to convince, and both women make the film believable even when it explodes from within.
Though Neil Patrick Harris has an annoying role playing a former boyfriend of Ms. Pike, Tyler Perry provides considerable interest as a nationally known defense attorney by the name of Tanner Bolt. Though he is a copy of the legendary Johnny Cochran, as a criminal defense attorney I can tell you that his advice to Afleck was spot on at every turn.
Oddly, the part of this film that I embraced with glee dealt with an idiotic impersonation of TV’s Nancy Grace. Writer Gillian Flynn, who adapted her novel for the screen, allows her to mock herself unmercifully, and it was a joy knowing that Ms. Grace was subjected to the contempt she deserves.
In any event, I know I am in a small row-boat by criticizing this film given its great reviews. However, it has a great deal going for it, particularly when it allows Ms. Grace’s alter ego to flamboyantly defend evil. Yet it lasts nearly 2½ hours, so be prepared for a long cinematic train ride.