The less you know about this movie, the better.
In a nutshell, Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, who comes home one day to discover that his wife (Rosamund Pike) is missing and it looks like there might be foul play. Through a series of flashbacks through the movie, we start to uncover what might’ve happened. Is Nick a loving husband? Or a murderer? Tyler Perry comes in as a superstar lawyer who can help Nick defend himself, while Neil Patrick Harris joins as a former stalker of Nick’s wife that might have some secrets of his own.
The movie is directed by David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and is based on a novel written by Gillian Flynn. Luckily Flynn also wrote the screenplay, so those of you worried about the translation to the screen might be relieved.
This movie is incredible. It may not be for everyone, but if you’ve enjoyed some of Fincher’s work before, you should know what to expect here.
Affleck gives an incredible performance that has you constantly guessing if he’s the hero or the villain of the story. The real standout though is Rosamund Pike. I can’t really tell you why she’s incredible, as to not spoil you, but she shows off some serious acting chops and is hopefully going to be a contender for some big awards this year.
On a story level, the movie goes to some really dark places but it also is surprisingly funny. You find yourself chuckling, but then quickly realizing just how dark and absurd the whole situation is. Luckily the trailers really don’t give anything away, so if you don’t do any research, you’ll have a rollercoaster of an experience that is unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time. The ending of the film may not give you closure, but in terms of a beautiful and thought-provoking finale… it succeeds completely.
Fincher delivers here as well, creating what is undoubtedly one of his best films. It has the trademark composition and locations that you might recognize from films like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac. It really harkens back to Se7en as well, giving you an intriguing crime story but this time we’re following people in the midst of it, as opposed to the police investigating it. He was absolutely the best director to bring this film to the screen.
There’s also some really interesting messages here, similar to Fight Club. How does the media treat these victims and potential murderers? How has social media changed the landscape of reporting? How do men and women approach these situations differently? There’s a lot of really great and interesting points of discussion here.
What doesn’t work?
While I loved the movie, I can see some valid reasons for not liking it.
The movie’s near 3 hours long and a lot of it is silence and sitting with these characters in their darkest points. It takes patience. You have to see the movie as a character study of a husband and wife and what love can do to you.
The ending will also upset some viewers who want a sense of closure. It kind of just ends and that may frustrate you. I believe the imagination is worse than what you really see and I can see why Fincher would end on that note.
If all is right in the world, this movie will be up for several awards at this year’s Oscars. At least for Pike and potentially Affleck. It’s a dark story and isn’t for those with a weak stomach, but it rewards you with an incredibly riveting story with complicated and complex characters. Visually, it’s stunning, and the story is one that you won’t be able to forget. One of the best of the year so far.