At The Movies: Gone Girl

“Gone Girl” is either the strangest, creepiest love story ever told, or the strangest, creepiest murder mystery ever told. Or both.

Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a writer from Missouri who moves to New York and doesn’t find success at writing but does meet the girl of his dreams, Amy Elliott (Rosamund Pike). Amy’s parents are successful writers who took their daughter’s childhood and turned it into a series of books.

173646H1When Nick’s mother becomes terminally ill, the couple leave the Big Apple for a small town outside St. Louis (the movie was filmed in Cape Girardeau). Nick is happy to be home but Amy doesn’t feel like she fits in. They both lose their jobs in the recession and Amy uses her trust-fund money to buy a bar for Nick and his sister Margo (Carrie Coon) to run.

As the film opens, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. The thrill has long since gone out of the marriage. After visiting with Margo at the bar, Nick goes home to find his wife missing and an overturned coffee table in the living room.

The police are called in and a search for the missing Amy begins. To say anymore about the plot would be to say too much.

Directed by David Fincher and based on the novel by Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay), “Gone Girl” is a dark, twisted tale that fits right in with Fincher’s other works “Seven,” “Zodiac” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo.”

While there’s one scene of graphic violence, the movie builds its suspense in other ways. The smartly crafted story is stylishly shot and offers many twists and turns, few heroes and a lot of scarred individuals.

The film is expertly cast. Affleck and Pike are compelling in the lead roles with strong supporting performances by Neil Patrick Harris as Amy’s ex-boyfriend, Tyler Perry as Nick’s attorney, Coon as Nick’s sister and Kim Dickens as the detective trying to make sense of it all.

At 2.5 hours “Gone Girl” runs a bit long — the ending feels especially dragged out. And that ending is certain to spark debate and strong feelings on all sides.

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