GONE GIRL (USA/16/149mins)
Directed by David Fincher. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit. Missy Pyle, Emily Ratajkowski.
THE PLOT: It's June 5th 2005, and Nick Dunne isn't looking forward to his 5th wedding anniversary. So much so that, early that morning, he'd rather be down in the hometown pub, The Bar, that he owns, and that his sister, Margo (Coon), runs. His wife, Amy (Pike), likes to present her husband with cryptic clues to a treasure hunt every anniversary, and the novelty has worn off for Nick. The honeymoon period is definitely over, and Nick has found himself increasingly unable to work out Amy's clues. Which may have something to do with the fact that he's grown to hate her. Despite their crazy, sexy, cool early years, from their meet-cute first kiss in a back alley blizzard from a sugar factory to the conspiratorial dislike of her parents, hugely successful, and wealthy, through the Amazing Amy books, which told a much happier, sweeter, far more successful version of their daughter's life. Those were the reasons, that was New York, but now, having moved to the suburbs when Nick's mum fell ill, the couple have grown desperately apart. So, when Nick returns from his morning bourbon to find his wife gone and the house showing signs of a struggle, he's both shocked, and a little happy. Something Detective Rhonda Boney (Dickens) and her deputy, Officer Jim Gilpin (Fugit), pick up. And then, so do the neighbours. And the media. The man had everything to gain from his wife's disappearance. Soon, even Margo begins to have her doubts as the evidence starts mounting up against her brother...
THE VERDICT: Based on Gillian Flynn's 2012 bestseller, Gone Girl is perfect David Fincher material. On the surface, this is traditional thriller material, but proceedings take more than one Hitchcockian turn early on, and the twists then just keep on coming. Gillian Flynn has a lot of fun exploring just how relationships work, the pretence involved in seduction, the slow decay of that pretence and the resentment that comes with the realisation that not only is your partner not the person you fell in love with, but, worse, neither are you.
Along the way, there's much to enjoy here, a surprising amount of laughs and some bullseyes on the bullshit - Missy Pyle's Nancy Grace-esque TV shit-stirrer being one of the most blatant. At heart though, this is a sweet whodunnit. Just don't bring your loved one along if they're not really all that loved anymore.
Review by Paul Byrne