Look closely. You’ve seen enough of “Criminal Minds,” “CSI,” “Bones,” “Law & Order,” “NCIS” and “Without a Trace” to know how the story goes. The killer’s usually the husband, or ex-boyfriend (in Hae Min Lee’s case), or someone close to the victim.
And the husband of missing person Amy Elliot Dunne (Rosamund Pike) certainly looks and sounds suspicious.
Examine his opening monologue: “When I think of my wife, I think of her lovely head. I picture cracking her lovely skull, unspooling her brain trying to get answers…. The primal questions of any marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done with each other?”
Based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel and directed by David Fincher (whose known for psychological thrillers like “Se7en,” “The Game” and “Fight Club”), “Gone Girl” resembles one of those TV crime shows.
This case takes place in a small fictional town in Missouri. Hubby Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home on his fifth anniversary to find his furniture overturned and his wife missing. He calls homicide detectives Rhona Boney (Kim Dickens) and James Gilpin (Patrick Fugit), who bring him to the police station for questioning.
“Yeah, it’s just all of a sudden, I feel like I’m in a ‘Law & Order’ episode,” says Nick.
Interspersed through the modern narrative of Amy’s disappearance are Amy’s diary entries of Amy and Nick’s fairy tale romance. They’re writers, you see, with a flare for storytelling. Amy’s the highly educated daughter of the wealthy authors (David Clennon and Lisa Banes) of the “Amazing Amy” children’s book series. Nick’s a journalist for a NYC-based magazine. They meet in a New York City party. They get married two years later. But when the recession hit in 2010, Nick and Amy were laid off from work, returning to Nick’s Missouri hometown. “Nick is happy to be home, but I don’t know if he’s happy that I’m with him,” Amy writes. “I feel like something loaded by mistake. Something to be jettisoned if necessary. Something disposable. I feel like I could disappear.”
Fincher’s a masterful manipulator, armed with an arsenal of highly impressive chess pieces: a pair of pretty and likable actors (Affleck and Pike) and Flynn’s dynamite screenplay, just to name a few.
That, plus the 24-hour cable news networks and our preconceived notions of crime, helps Fincher establish the plot twists, slowly altering our perception of the case. We feel for Nick. We certainly do. (Just like we feel for Adnan Syed.) But like producer Sarah Koenig does with her podcast “Serial” — ping-ponging back and forth between guilty or innocent, we can’t help but wonder if Nick killed his wife.
Lucky for us, this case has a pretty clear-cut ending, which audiences will devour.
“Gone Girl” was directed by David Fincher and written by Gillian Flynn. Actress Rosamund Pike was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. “Gone Girl” was also nominated for Best Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay during the 2015 Golden Globes.