Monday, November 10, 2014

Movie Review - Gone Girl

I haven't done a movie review in awhile.

We saw the trailers for this movie and I wanted to see it but neither my wife nor my daughter were interested. Finally, I said to myself, "Remember you're a retired guy now, you can go to the movies whenever you want". "That's right!" I replied. So last Tuesday at 11:25 AM I was at the local Cinemark showing of "Gone Girl". Two advantages of going to the movies at 11:25 in the morning is that the price is lower, $5.25 for a ticket, and the theater isn't crowded.

I'm a bit late with this review. "Gone Girl" has been out for a few weeks so you've probably already seen it. But in case you haven't, there is a massive spoiler near the end of my review.

The central plot is easy to state. Man finds his wife missing from their home. There appears to have been a destructive struggle in the house. Man calls police. Police detective immediately starts noticing little clues in the house. What looks like trace blood splatter in the kitchen. Signs of a struggle that look staged. An envelope in the husband's office, labeled "Clue One".

Eventually, Detective Boney (Kim Dickens) begins to suspect murder with husband Nick (Ben Afflect) as the prime suspect. As the story moves forward, punctuated with on-screen lettering laying out the time line (Gone 1 Day), we get flashbacks of early days of their courtship and married life, using the technique of showing wife Amy (Rosemund Pike) writing in her journal.

Since Amy was a beautiful woman (in fact, a beautiful blond white woman), a media craze starts almost immediately. News trucks and reporters are staked out in front of Nick's house at all hours. The case soon attracts the attention of a Nancy Grace-like television show, where Nick is castigated every day. Nick turns to hot-shot attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) for help. Blot has the reputation of successfully defending white wife killers.  Things start to spiral out of Nick's control.

On one level, this seems like a simple murder mystery. On the other hand, too many things don't add up for Detective Boney. Which is why, even though urged by her partner, she puts off arresting Nick. Nick starts looking at some past boyfriends of Amy's and finds a disturbing pattern of Amy ending these past relationships because of some violent event. She accused one guy of rape and the only way he avoided prison was to plead to a lesser charge of sexual assault. 

I liked all the actors in this. Ben Afflect, at first appearing to just be a regular guy who is worried about his missing wife, is slowly revealed to have is own hidden misdeeds, like a much younger than himself mistress he's kept secret for over a year. I'm not too familiar with Rosemund Pike, in fact the only movie I've ever seen her in is the wretched "Wrath of the Titans" in which she played Andromeda, a performance I don't remember at all. In the revelations from Amy's diary we see her as a sweet lovely woman, doing all she can to make her husband happy.

It's time for the MASSIVE SPOILER.

As Amy's diary gets closer to current time, we learn that, not only isn't she dead, she'd spent about a year preparing to frame Nick for her murder. We see her making 7 years worth of diary entries, showing how wonderful the early years were with Nick but gradually changing to show Nick as a alcoholic abuser. Reading mystery books and taking notes. Befriending a woman down the street, a woman who eventually describes herself as Amy's best friend to the police. A woman who Nick only knew as some woman down the street. When Amy is on the run she appears to be more and more psychotic, at one point, hitting herself in the face with a hammer to support her claim to people that she met that her husband abused her. Pike was quite effective, and a bit scary, as the mild-mannered sweet woman from her diary and the crazy woman who wants her husband put away for a murder that didn't even occur. In the end she becomes a stone-cold killer who can still project a sweet exterior to others.

I don't have any idea of how the movie compares to the book but I intend to read the book.

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