Gone Girl

Ben Affleck playing a sociopath usually works out all right, and this movie was no exception. When he doesn't have to try to show normal human emotion I like him a lot better, much like Keanu Reeves. As it turns out, what I should have been worried about was the editing, or maybe it was just that Gillian Flynn, the author of the novel this is based on and who also wrote the screenplay, wouldn't let anyone edit anything out.

So good old Ben (State of Play), here playing Nick Dunne, is married to Amy (Rosamund Pike, The World's End). They've had some tough times, but they're pretty much the perfect couple, except of course that can't be true. Amy's diary entries show a relationship that's slowly crumbling under the weight of money troubles and Nick's temper, and I'm sure his wandering eye doesn't help, either. Of course, Amy's a bit messed up herself -- her mother made a fortune writing kids' books about Amazing Amy, based on her daughter, which sounds sweet until you realize that the character was always better at everything than the actual girl. No psychological trauma there.

Anyway, on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick returns home from an early-morning jaunt to the bar he and his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) own to discover that Amy is gone and there are signs of a struggle in the living room. At first more confused than worried, Nick calls the police, and Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens, Deadwood) arrives on the scene, with latex glove on one hand and the other perpetually clutching a coffee cup.

Things soon start turning ugly for Nick, who after all can't really manage to show any normal human emotion, and that looks bad when foul play is suspected in the disappearance of one's spouse. Officer Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) is all set to string Nick up right away, but Rhonda (I refuse to call her that other awful name) is less sure. This is the first sign of a fairly serious flaw in the film: much of it rests on the huge assumption that any (male) law enforcement officer instantly forgets all his training the moment he's confronted with a pretty woman in distress. If you're relying on that sort of thing, there's something seriously wrong with your plot.

As more pieces of the puzzle are revealed, Nick eventually gets a high-priced, high profile lawyer on his side named Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry, Alex Cross), who doesn't get to do much except chuckle over the mess Nick has gotten himself into. That's less cruel than it sounds, or at least I hope it is, because I wanted to giggle a little myself. Nick is very predictable, you see, and that's where most of the trouble comes from.

I'm a little torn on a rating. While I was interested to see how it turned out, by the time we finished hour two I really, really wanted it to be over already. And then at the end, everyone is basically right back where they started, except slightly worse off. Someone online called the second half a very black comedy, but I don't think that's right because I normally like dark comedy and this just didn't do a whole lot for me. So I think I'll have to go against the trend a little and give it three and a quarter. It was overall an interesting experiment, but not entirely effective. I might have considered three and a half, but I docked it a quarter on behalf of male law enforcement officers everywhere.

Nick awkwardly attempts one of those 'smiles' he's heard so much about.


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