Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) spends his five-year anniversary filling out a missing person’s report for his wife. The strange thing is, he doesn’t seem too choked up about it. Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) is a beautiful, blonde, educated housewife with apparently no social life and no hobbies outside of their home. How could her husband know so little about her after five years of marriage? There’s something fishy about Amy’s disappearance that no one, not the detectives or Nick, can put a finger on. Some would say it almost looks like Nick – the harmless, laid-back, bar owner – may be covering up his wife’s murder…
I have to stop right there because every significant plot point after Day 1 of Amy’s disappearance could be considered a spoiler. Gone Girl may feel like a very long movie, especially for a psychological drama, but it’s a necessary kind of long. I waited on the edge of a gasp to find out who did it and how. Just when you think one mystery is solved, another one blooms out of the issues Nick and Amy could never resolve in couples’ counseling.
Ben Affleck is as mystified by the disappearance as we are, absorbing each new piece of information with sudden disbelief before the pin drops and we realize that Amy is hiding more pent-up drama than Yellowstone National Park. The media plays a huge role in the film, doubting Nick’s innocence, his fidelity, and then rallying behind his pleas for evidence. The news vans and the sketchy reporters follow his every move and, inevitably, paint him in false light. Meanwhile, we get to see the turmoil going on in Nick’s head. He may have had motive to kill his wife, he may have had the opportunity, but did he do it? Could he do it?
Amy may be the kidnapped victim, but she is hardly lacking screen time. Her character appears in flash-backs and montages, evolving constantly into a completely different person. Like Wendy morphing into Captain Hook. Amy is the every-woman, the intellectual, the devoted wife, the tactician, and the desperate survivor. We discover the true depth of her character at the same time as Nick. They may have been married, but it’s like he’s spent five years hanging out with Amy-the-actor instead of Amy-the-person. Rosamund Pike does an expert job of portraying a spiralling character and someone who can be utterly superficial yet frustratingly complex at the same time.
Gone Girl isn’t just another mystery to solve: it’s layered with motives, plots, lies, and shocking realisations. Both Affleck and Pike are actors who play characters that are acting through life – sometimes convincingly, other times purposefully not. There are hidden clues, obvious clues, and the best portrayal of a thoroughly messed-up marriage in every sense. Gone Girl isn’t a movie I would re-watch over and over again for the sheer pleasure of it, but it is still an 8/10.