Weird tone is the biggest mystery in ‘Gone Girl’

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 3:37pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

You’ve got to admire the confidence of “Gone Girl”: this truly odd movie coughs up a bizarre story line mixed with comic social commentary, but it never loses its swagger. Being the eagerly awaited adaptation of a best-selling page-turner will encourage that kind of attitude, I guess.

Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel has a few twists up its bloodied sleeve, but we’ll be discreet here. The story begins with the disappearance of Amy (Rosamund Pike) from her unloved Missouri home, and escalates into a media circus as suspicion is cast on her husband Nick (Ben Affleck).

Nick has the help of his sister (Carrie Coon) and a celebrity lawyer (Tyler Perry, excellent), but his status in the public eye is dismal. Meanwhile, we see excerpts from Amy’s diary, which fill in the picture of a marriage gone sour.

The TV-style cops on the case are quirkily played by Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit. In fact, part of the kick of “Gone Girl” is the unexpected cast. This includes “Madea” man Tyler Perry playing it straight, Neil Patrick Harris and Scoot McNairy as eccentric exes from Amy’s past, and model Emily Ratajkowski as a young woman of intrigue.

Affleck brings his doofus side out, looking beefy and just a bit slow on the uptake. Pike, who’s gone good duty in “Jack Reacher” and “The World’s End,” is ideal for the smart but super-controlling Amy.

This story might have been a clean, dark suspense tale. But Flynn (who adapted the screenplay herself) and “Zodiac” director David Fincher have gone in an unexpected direction — it’s the biggest twist of all. “Gone Girl” is not a thriller but a satire, one that reaches for things to say about modern society, and all that.

The peculiar tone takes some getting used to. Yes, there’s a woman missing and evidence of violence, but these cops sure are funny.

Fincher is a gifted filmmaker, although the role of social satirist (as in “Fight Club,” or “The Social Network”) is not his best mode. Most of the targets here, from media goons to suburban small-mindedness, are past their freshness date.

Some of this is redeemed by the film’s eerie momentum, even when the chronology flips back and forth. Scenes quickly fade to black and then just as quickly come up on some new revelation.

Weird film. “Gone Girl” is an outlandish subject with an A-list treatment, and its cynicism is striking. An interesting spectacle to watch, for sure, but for me the movie rings hollow at its core.

“Gone Girl” (2 1/2 stars)

A missing wife (Rosamund Pike) and a husband (Ben Affleck) under suspicion are the ingredients of this truly odd adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller. Director David Fincher goes for social satire — the movie isn’t really much of a thriller — which gives the whole thing a hollow ring. Great cast, including Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris.

Rating: R, for nudity, violence, language

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Meridian, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place Stadium 14, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.

Talk to us

More in Life

Shawn McQuiller of Kool & The Gang performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on Sunday, May 8, 2022, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Kool & The Gang and Average White Band are coming soon to a casino near you. Queensryche also is due in Arlington.

Preston Brust, left, and Chris Lucas of LOCASH perform during CMA Fest 2022 on Thursday, June 8, 2022, at the Chevy Riverfront Stage in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The country music duo Locash drops by the Angel of the Winds Casino on Saturday. And there’s the Summer Meltdown festival at its new home near Snohomish all weekend.

‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker. (Terra Nova Nurseries)
Warmer weather means brighter, hotter colors in the garden

Here are seven plants that will bring a blazing pop of color to your outdoor spaces.

An easy one-mile loop near the visitor center at Seaquest State Park explores the edge of Silver Lake.
(Scott Hewitt/The Columbian)
Discover seven hidden gems not far from the super slab

Weekend trips: Next time you’re making the I-5 slog toward Oregon, check out some of these parks and preserves just off the freeway corridor.

Caption: Now’s a great time to stock up on free Covid tests available to Washington State residents at:
COVID-19’s behind her except for a nagging cough

But things might have been much different — in a bad way — without testing and vaccines.

The blended-families challenge requires patience, maturity

Don’t expect miracles — it can be rough going for some time. Get professional help if you need it.

Her Turo rental was repossessed with valuable items inside

When Michelle Marshall’s Turo rental gets repossessed, the car-sharing company offers her a partial refund. But what about her son’s expensive epilepsy medication? Is Turo responsible for that?

Lee Oskar and his dog Tex inside his art studio in his home on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Harmonica whiz Lee Oskar is also a pro with a paintbrush

Oskar’s music and art studios are in his Everett home. The former member of the 1970s band War is now 74, and still rocks “Low Rider.”

The 2022 WM Recycle Corps interns are part of WM’s recycling education and outreach team.
WM Recycle Corps interns return after two-year COVID slowdown

The collegiate interns are back in the community to help improve recycling habits and reduce waste.

Caption: At Flight Room in Lynnwood, aerial fitness poses like “vampire” use every muscle in your body.
Fitness takes flight at new aerial studio in Lynnwood

Jennifer Bardsley finds benefits and “silk kisses” from doing aerial yoga at Lynnwood studio.

Photo Caption: This carved shelf brought $2,500 at New Haven Auctions. Decorations and symbols associated with the Odd Fellows add to its appeal.
Odd Fellows iconography adds to this carved shelf’s value

Fun fact: The Odd Fellows is believed to have originated in medieval trade guilds, with “odd fellow” meaning someone who did odd jobs for a living.

The Limelight Prime Panicle Hydrangea. (Proven Winners)
3 new “pee gee” hydrangeas for gardeners to salivate over

These new shrubs boast better flower color and, in some cases, more compact forms that fit better in smaller gardens.