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Patricia Puentes

“Turning Red” Review: Pixar’s New Film Features a Girl and Her Inner Red Panda

movie review of gone girl

Rating: 7/10

Mastering the art of controlling your inner beast is a theme in Turning Red — Pixar’s new feature film debuting on Disney+ next Friday, March 11 — and I very much relate to it.

The animated movie tells the story of Meilin (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), an overachieving and math-loving 13-year-old girl who’s convinced she’s already a grown-up. Fortunately, her Chinese Canadian family has taught her the number one rule: honor your parents. She does so by helping out at the family-run temple her parents own. But she also tries to look for herself and be transparent about who she is: a girl in love with books, unicorns, and the boy band 4 Town. 

Her mother, Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh), could be described as a bit overbearing. She watches Meilin like a hawk and isn’t a strong believer in privacy or personal space. It turns out there are reasons why Ming is so zealous about watching over her daughter, other than just doing the normal mom thing and not realizing her little girl is no longer so. 

Ming is looking for signs of Meilin’s “turning red”. And by that, I don’t mean getting her period for the first time, although menstruation is also addressed in the movie. “Did the red peony bloom?” Ming asks her teenage daughter at one point. “You’re now a beautiful strong flower who must protect your delicate petals and clean them regularly,” she adds in a hilarious bit full of euphemisms and metaphors. 

The thing is, Meilin hasn’t turned red in that sense yet. Instead, and because she’s feeling extra anxious and stressed out, she’s poofed into a fluffy and adorable red panda. She’s all fuzzy hair, complete with a cute little nose, bushy tail and goofy paws. 

movie review of gone girl

Luckily there are ways of dealing with Meilin’s little quirk. Her mom knows all about it. After all, she had to do it herself. Turning into a red panda when you hit puberty runs in their family. 

But the resourceful Meilin also learns how to cope with her furry inner-beast manifestation in her own ways. Being surrounded by her loving friends — Abby (voiced by Hyein Park), Miriam (voiced by Ava Morse) and Priya (voiced by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) — has the effect of sending her to her safe place and shifting back to her human state. Meilin’s girlfriends neutralize the panda.

They also make her happy. They’re a bunch of horny (are there any other kind?) teenagers obsessed with the members of 4 Town and the catchy tunes of their single “Nobody Like U” . The band members are played in the film by professional musicians Josh Levi , Jordan Fisher and Finneas O’Connell , aka FINNEAS, perhaps better known as Billie Eilish’s brother, producer and frequent collaborator. Eilish and FINNEAS wrote the music for 4 Town .

One of my only quandaries about Turning Red is that it only dares to (maybe) hint at one of the characters being queer, which isn’t surprising for Disney . But a statement made by the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar and their allies , and published by Variety ahead of the release of the movie and after Disney didn’t initially oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill , alleges that Disney corporate executives have demanded cuts from “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection… regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.” So take that into account while watching.

The movie is a throwback to 2002, the year in which it’s set. There are Tamagotchis, CDs, flip phones and glossy magazines — plus not a single mention of TikTok or whatever it is teenagers are into in 2022. 

This is number 25 in Pixar’s list of feature films and the first one solely directed by a woman — Brenda Chapman is credited as a co-director of Brave (2012) but she was dismissed from the movie halfway through its production by the questionable John Lasseter . The Canadian Chinese Domee Shi directed and co-wrote Turning Red with Julia Cho. Shi was the writer and director of Pixar’s 2018 short Bao , which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Both Bao and Turning Red share the topic of overprotective mothers. 

movie review of gone girl

Even though the connection between Turning Red and other intimate non-franchise Pixar films is palpable — it reminded me of Inside Out (2015) but also Soul (2020) — the fact that there’s a woman at the helm really shows this time. 

That’s not only because of the group of friends at the center of this story and how the bond between these four girls is vital to keeping Meilin strong during her struggle. But mostly because of how specific and authentic Meilin’s world and experiences feel; it made me think of my own quandaries as a dorky teenager. 

You could initially think you’ve seen this movie before — our hero needs to confront a challenging rite of passage and by the end of the movie they’ll prevail, stronger than before — and even though that’s exactly what happens, you won’t see some of the decisions Meilin makes coming. I’m glad Shi decided against taking a more traditional route with her protagonist’s fate. 

There’s a strong message in the movie about maturing, making your own decisions and knowing when to say “no”. There’s also that idea of controlling your inner beast but being aware of when it may come in handy to let it out — I try to unleash mine only when dealing with rude people.

Editor’s Note: This review was updated with information about a statement made by Pixar’s employees.


movie review of gone girl

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2014, Mystery & thriller/Crime, 2h 29m

What to know

Critics Consensus

Dark, intelligent, and stylish to a fault, Gone Girl plays to director David Fincher's sick strengths while bringing the best out of stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Read critic reviews

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Gone girl   photos.

In Carthage, Mo., former New York-based writer Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his glamorous wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) present a portrait of a blissful marriage to the public. However, when Amy goes missing on the couple's fifth wedding anniversary, Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. The resulting police pressure and media frenzy cause the Dunnes' image of a happy union to crumble, leading to tantalizing questions about who Nick and Amy truly are.

Rating: R (Language|A Scene of Bloody Violence|Nudity|Some Strong Sexual Content)

Genre: Mystery & thriller, Crime, Drama

Original Language: English

Director: David Fincher

Producer: Ceán Chaffin , Arnon Milchan , Joshua Donen , Reese Witherspoon

Writer: Gillian Flynn

Release Date (Theaters): Oct 3, 2014  wide

Release Date (Streaming): Jun 1, 2016

Box Office (Gross USA): $167.8M

Runtime: 2h 29m

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Production Co: TSG Entertainment

Sound Mix: Dolby Digital

Cast & Crew

Ben Affleck

Rosamund Pike

Neil Patrick Harris

Desi Collings

Tyler Perry

Tanner Bolt

Kim Dickens

Det. Rhonda Boney

Patrick Fugit

Det. Jim Gilpin

Carrie Coon

David Clennon

Rand Elliot

Marybeth Elliott

Ellen Abbott

Emily Ratajkowski

Andie Hardy

Casey Wilson

Noelle Hawthorne

Boyd Holbrook

Sharon Scheiber

Scoot McNairy

David Fincher

Gillian Flynn


Ceán Chaffin

Arnon Milchan

Joshua Donen

Reese Witherspoon

Leslie Dixon

Executive Producer

Bruna Papandrea

Jeff Cronenweth


Kirk Baxter

Film Editing

Trent Reznor

Original Music

Atticus Ross

Donald Graham Burt

Production Design

Supervising Art Direction

Douglas A. Mowat

Set Decoration

Trish Summerville

Costume Design

Laray Mayfield

News & Interviews for Gone Girl

SAG Awards 2015 Winners

Conversations With 2015 Oscar Nominees

2015 Oscar Nominations

Critic Reviews for Gone Girl

Audience reviews for gone girl.

Mesmerizing performances, tense atmosphere, unexpected plot twists and turns of events, this movie is a real crime thriller!

movie review of gone girl

Never read the book so I didn't know what to expect and I had very little interest in watching it but rave reviews came in so I gave it a shot and I loved it, There's so many twists and turns that the bloated run time went by quite fast, Ben Affleck puts in a great performance as did all the cast, The story was so creepy and psychotic it worked so well, It always leaves you guessing of what's going to happen next and we never really can guess on how it will all unfold, The ending will either piss people off or make people love the film more, As for me I'm on the ropes about it as I love a wierd unhappy ending but a part of me wanted to smash my TV up too, It's weird, Dark, Unsettling in places and just a great thriller.

I don't know much about the bestselling novel, which the movie was based off, so I don't know how much was retooled and edited all the way towards the big ending. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, an unemployed magazine writer whose wife Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing from their supposedly perfect marriage life. Nick becomes a tortured, confused husband after he comes home one day to find his home wrecked and his wife missing. As the local police (Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit) are involved and investigates but seem skeptical about Nick's odd behavior and reaction. particularly his just too-calm aloofness and demeanor to his wife's disappearance. Surprisingly he doesn't seem to know much about his wife personally and social ably and they seem to suspect that he is hiding something. Even Nick's twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon from HBO's Leftovers) to whom he is close to and greatly trusts, begins to have her own doubts if Nick is telling the full truth as the investigation develops on. There's a suffocation presence from investigating law enforcement, and the media tabloids that create a web of mounding pressure and confusion around a missing wife and a presumably guilty looking husband. But there is a flip side to Nick's actions and story as piling clues and physical evidence involving Amy' disappearance is beginning to paint a completely different portrait of her husband, of a man that prone to showing signs of increasing anger, physical abuse, selfishness, and suspected infidelity, as a result the leering media spotlight gradually transforms Nick Dunne from victim to prime suspect. I admit that I had reserves about Affleck playing out this lead role, and the blank facial looks in the first half of the film starting me out wondering about that (maybe that was purpose of the blanks due to his role) - but as the movie evolved and developed, his character grew on me and eventually intrigued me, especially during in its dark humor spots and moments -.particularly his antics when he is awkwardly forced into a media interview with a controversial, exploiting TV talk show host. But I admit that it was Rosamund Pike (as Amy Dunne) who easily stole the show and spotlight with me in this film- In fact don't be surprised if she is thought of when the Oscar Academy buzz starts up based off this very part and role as she took on a look of conveying Amy's upper-class upbringing, her icy demeanor, that is perceived and interpreted as being disdain. Through Amy's clues (ala her hidden journals the character opens up to us, feeding out overflowing defining details and auto-biographical testimonies, making us fear for her, and Rosamund Pike sells it. We see her as both a victim and suspect, both controlling and protective. But no matter what she is always composed and prepared. I was impressed with how she reveals and displays her tale and antics over time, how she makes us rethink the past and the characters and their sincerity. Gone Girl is a patient and steady film, but I did that it was too long (About two and a half hours) and overall I kinda felt it's longveitity.in the latter half. It's a terrific whodunit suspenseful thriller with several booby-trapped surprises that only make you dig in more. It seems like every few minutes we're learning more and more about Nick and what he's been hiding from others - the film is thought provoking and it influences you to try to figure out who is the suspect, who is the victim, who deserves justice, who deserves revenge, It shows both questionable and involving parties using media manipulation to exploit their targets in a game of justice, deceit and revenge - and the film keeps the audience I'm part of guessing between who to root for - and who to believe -and why they should be believed.. From top to bottom, I thought the acting and the supporting cast overall was terrific and well done in the film. Even surprisingly Tyler Perry in his appearance in a significant role as Nick's high media profile, slick-smooth defense attorney. However there are just a few issues I had with Gone Girl, Besides being a bit too long, I simply did not like or care for the casting of Neil Patrick Harris in it at all as I simply could not take him serious in his character role as Amy's mystery past lover. Maybe he is too typecast as a highly spot-lighted lead figure of " How I Met Your Mother " - and maybe Harris himself simply couldn't make me convinced by his acting that he is more than just TV's I thought attempting to look past Harris' presence was hampering my imagination, mode and mood of the movie ,and I admit that I was so ready for him to go away so I could get re-focused on the movie again, I wished they had went a different direction - I was bothered the minute I saw him and I was nowhere near convinced with his acting role as a smothering, love-sick ex-boyfriend. But it had more issues (than just Neil Patrick Harris) I also thought there would be another episode in the making when Amy's plans are thwarted and she is mugged and robbed - I had expected another act of revenge on her part and I would get to see her cleverness and cunning in getting back at her tormenters- but at last, it didn't happen. As good as the plot and story write is, as good as the camera work is,... as superb as the overall acting is, ..as good as the dark, smirking sense of humor moments were, I had issues with the disappointing ending; Especially as much as it was build up and rolling with momentum and happenings where my anticipation was racing towards the wow- expecting climatic ending that I thought I was in for- But without spoiling it for you , it really didn't happen. More so, I was left with a ..." oh, what da hell? " impression as the ending credits began to roll. It didn't settled anything, and left me like it had surrendered and gave it up when it was apparently targeting the viewers' curiosity and anticipation to the very end. I liked the mood, dark atmosphere, and cinematography - Once it hits to Amy's diary tale - that's when I thought the movie really ante up and became extraordinarily compelling, ....that's when you should tie yourself down to your chair,... focus your eyeballs tightly to the screen ....and line up your ears to the theater speakers as closely and attentively as possible because she goes through all her dirty evidence work and antics with an amazing speed and pin-point display but it is so clever and complicated that you may be afraid that you may missed out on an very important clue. And it is critical because it is the basic motive for the entire film. The great twist and turn of it is it sets up the mystery of who to believe, who to root for, who to villainize and point the finger at, who is the victim, who is the suspect, and who is telling the believable truth. As it develops, it has some of the who-dunnit element and sexy seductiveness that we remember seeing from Basic Instincts. Overall and as a whole , I thought it was a very good suspenseful thriller - and on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it 7.5 ....and 3 Tomatoes

Incredibly sharp, tense and beautiful - Gone Girl is David Fincher's underrated masterpiece.

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movie review of gone girl

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"Gone Girl" is art and entertainment, a thriller and an issue, and an eerily assured audience picture. It is also a film that shifts emphasis and perspective so many times that you may feel as though you're watching five short movies strung together, each morphing into the next.

At first, "Gone Girl" seems to tell the story of a man who might or might not have killed somebody, and is so closed off and alienating (like Bruno Richard Hauptmann, perhaps) that even people who believe in his innocence can't help wondering. His name is Nick Dunne ( Ben Affleck ). He's a college professor and a blocked writer. His dissatisfied wife Amy ( Rosamund Pike ) disappears one day, prompting local cops to open a missing persons case that becomes a murder investigation after three days pass without word from her. Amy and Nick seemed like a happy couple. The snippets from Amy's diary, read in voice-over by Amy and accompanied by flashbacks, hint at differences between them, but not the sort that seem irreconcilable (not at first, anyway). Were things ever really all that sunny, though? If they weren't, which spouse was the main source of rancor? Can we trust what Nick tells the homicide detectives ( Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit , both outstanding) who investigate Amy's case? Can we trust what Amy tells us, via her diary? Is one of the spouses lying? Are they both lying? If so, to what end? 

The film raises these questions and others, and it answers nearly all of them, often in boldface, all-caps sentences that end with exclamation points. It is not a subtle film, nor is it trying to be. As directed by David Fincher ("Se7en," " Zodiac ") and as adapted by Gillian Flynn from her bestselling potboiler, "Gone Girl" suggests one of those overheated, fairly comic-bookish "R"-rated thrillers that were everywhere in the late '80s and early '90s. Like those sorts of pictures, "Gone Girl" is dependent upon reversals of expectation and point-of-view. As soon as you get a handle on what it is, it becomes something else, then something else again. Describing its storyline in detail would ruin aspects that would be counted as selling points for anyone who hasn't read Flynn's book. That's why I'm being so vague. 

Suffice to say that its explicit sex and violence and one-damn-thing-after-another, to-hell-with-realism plotting put it in the " Basic Instinct "/" Fatal Attraction "/" Presumed Innocent " wheelhouse. It is a  metafictionally- minded version of a bloody domestic melodrama that actually uses the word "meta" (in a scene where Nick and the cops discuss his bar,  which  is named The Bar). It ties much of its mystery plot to an anniversary scavenger hunt with clues enclosed in numbered envelopes marked "clue." Key scenes revolve around public statements that are in some sense performances, and that are evaluated by  onlookers  in terms of their believability.   

And yet it never crosses the line and becomes too much a deconstruction or parody.   It's a plot-obsessed picture that's determined to stay one step ahead of  the  audience at all times, and cheats when it feels it has to. It is a perfect example of a  sub-genre  that the  great critic Anne Billson has labeled " the preposterous thriller, " in which "characters and their behavior bear no relation not just to life as we know it, but to any sort of properly structured fiction we may have hitherto encountered." 

Many classic and near-classic films can be slotted into this sub-genre. One of them is Alfred Hitchcock's " Vertigo ," a film in which the bad guy's scheme makes no sense if you think about it for longer than thirty seconds and that, in any event, would have unraveled had even the smallest part of it not gone precisely as envisioned . (How did Gavin and imposter-Maddie get out of the bell tower, anyway, without  being seen by anybody, including Scottie? Was there a second stairwell? )  After  "Gone Girl" I overheard a couple listing all the dropped plot threads and  narrative holes big enough to hide aircraft carriers in. This isn't the sort of movie that can withstand that kind of scrutiny. You might as well say, "That part in my dream where the penguin told me where to dig for the treasure seemed unrealistic."

What of "Gone Girl" as a parable of gender relations, one that eventually takes an ugly misogynist turn? I've heard these  charges  leveled, and they have merit. You'll understand what I mean once you've seen the movie. At the same time, though, as we evaluate those complaints, we owe it to Flynn, Fincher and everyone involved to take into account what sort of film this is, what mode it's operating in, and how transparent it is about what it's doing, how it's doing it, and why. "Gone Girl" is a nightmare of love gone cold and a relationship gone south, coupled with an elaborate revenge fantasy that both exploits and reclaims sexist images and assumptions. It's  also  a film about a psychopath who turns an ordinary life into chaos.  Like a lot of Hitchcock—and like certain domestic nightmares by such filmmakers as Brian De Palma and Luis Bunuel —each scene in the movie refers, however obliquely, to real fears, real emotions and real configurations of love or friendship. But at the same time, not a single frame is meant to be taken literally, as a documentary-like account of how people are, or should be, or shouldn't be. It's working through primordial feelings in the manner of a blues song, a pulp thriller, a film noir, or a horror picture. 

These modes all trade in stereotypical views of the essences of masculinity and femininity. All are politically incorrect by definition. All seem to have had at least some bearing on "Gone Girl."  The  movie is sick joke, a fable and a lament. It's "He done her wrong" and "She done him wrong." It's "Men are spineless pigs" and "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."  If you make blanket assumptions about what men and women are capable of, and the  circumstances  under with they're capable of it, this film will confirm them. "Your chin," Amy tells Nick in a flashback, "it's quite villainous." He covers it up with his finger, but now that she's pointed it out, you can't not stare at it.  

The most intriguing thing about "Gone Girl" is how droll it is. For long stretches, Fincher's gliding widescreen camerawork, immaculate compositions and sickly, desaturated colors fuse with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's creepy-optimistic synthesized score to create a perverse big-screen  version  of one of those TV comedies built around a pathetically unobservant lump of a husband and his  hypercontrolling, slightly shrewish wife. For most of its running time, "Gone Girl" is  "Everybody Loves Accused Wife-Murderer Raymond," sprinkled with colorful-verging-on-wacky supporting players ( including   Tyler Perry as a Johnnie Cochran-like defense attorney and Neil Patrick Harris as a former flame of Amy's who's still obsessed with her). Then it takes a right turn, and a left turn, and flips upside down. 

I'm not saying the film is genuinely clever throughout (though it is always fiendishly manipulative) or that every twist is defensible (a few are stupid). I'm saying that "Gone Girl" is what it is, that it knows what it is, and that it works. You know how well it's working when you hear how audiences laugh at it, and with it. Their laughter evolves as the film does. They laugh tentatively at first, then with an enthusiasm that gives way to a full-throated, "I endorse this madness!" gusto during the final half-hour, when the story spirals into DePalma-style expressionism and the picture becomes a maelstrom of blood, tears and other bodily fluids. There are allusions to the O.J. Simpson case, " Macbeth " and "Medea," and the ending is less an ending than a punchline that's all the more amusing for feeling so deflated. 

That it's  hard  to tell whether Fincher has an  opinion  on anything he's showing us or is just sadistically bemused, like an evil child tormenting insects,  somehow adds to the movie's dark vibrancy. This director is a misanthrope, no question. But misanthropes can be entertaining, and "Gone Girl" is that—not just in the scenes where women see through men and other women with furious contempt, but in throwaway moments, such as when an unseen man yells "Louder!" at the beleaguered Nick during a  press  conference, and when the film shows tourists gathered in front of Nick's bar, taking  selfies. This  is a sick film, and often brilliant.

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of RogerEbert.com, TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

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Film credits.

Gone Girl movie poster

Gone Girl (2014)

Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language

149 minutes

Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne

Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne

Carrie Coon as Margo Dunne

Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney

Patrick Fugit as Detective Jim Gulpin

Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt

Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collins

Missi Pyle as Ellen Abbott

Casey Wilson as Noelle Hawthorne

  • David Fincher
  • Gillian Flynn

Director of Photography

  • Jeff Cronenweth
  • Kirk Baxter

Original Music Composer

  • Trent Reznor
  • Atticus Ross

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Gone Girl, film of the week

Gone Girl review – two different readings of a modern marriage

No one is quite what they seem in David Fincher’s tantalising adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling marital mystery

  • David Fincher on Gone Girl: ‘Bad things happen in this movie…’
  • Ben Affleck: five best moments

T he last time David Fincher took a stab at a bestselling potboiler with an enigmatic femme fatale, the disappointing result was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo , an eye-catchingly stylish but thematically empty (and, frankly, unnecessary) English-language remake of an entirely serviceable Danish/Swedish hit. Now, with this grippingly caustic adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bifurcated novel (which the author has brilliantly adapted and reconfigured for the screen), Fincher is back on form, mixing the forensic procedure of Zodiac with the playful high-gloss sheen of The Game to ingeniously wrong-foot the audience, leading them on a merry dance of death through the murderous maze of modern marriage.

On the day of his fifth wedding anniversary, bar owner Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) finds his Missouri home theatrically violated; the front door open; a glass table overturned and smashed; his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), unaccountably missing. Arriving at the scene, detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens, with a touch of Fargo ’s Marge Gunderson) senses that all is not as it seems. Evidence of financial troubles and domestic disputes turns the finger of suspicion toward Nick, whose uncertain displays of grief are deemed insufficient in an age of social media and rolling news. Within days, the realignment of Nick’s “smiling sociopath” public image becomes more pressing than the search for his gone girl wife, whose own voice is heard through the pages of an incriminating diary, which reveals an alternative reading of their apparently idyllic marriage.

Part putative murder mystery, part cynically sexy social satire, Gone Girl opens with Nick wondering: “What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other?”, and then spends most of its lengthy running time gleefully refusing to answer any of those questions. Just as The Game found Sean Penn setting elaborate role-playing traps for Michael Douglas, so the main characters here all adopt and discard projected personae, their true selves hidden beneath layers of unravelling deceit. Everything is a performance, everyone pretending to be something they are not, editing and rewriting themselves for the public – and for one another.

Tellingly, Amy is already a quasi-fictional character, immortalised (and perversely idealised) in her mother’s bestselling Amazing Amy children’s books, a fairytale alter ego that still stalks its host in adulthood. Amy’s diaries tell another story, in which our (un?)reliable narrator is increasingly terrorised by Nick, whom she no longer recognises as the man she married. Meanwhile, Nick takes PR lessons from attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), the “patron saint of wife killers” who understands the fine art of faking sincerity for the media. With its unhappily “shared” photos and incriminatory TV smiles, Gone Girl could be interpreted as a wryly morbid companion piece to The Social Network – a homicide investigation (without a body) played out in an arena in which technology has blurred the divide between the public and the private.

As Nick and Amy, Affleck and Pike are very smartly cast, their differing styles and stances perfectly complementing the jagged mismatch of their marriage. While Affleck laces his likable Joe shtick with a sly sense of concealment, Pike grapples with the more complex task of presenting a woman who exists in absentia – a prism-like refraction of the lives of others. There’s something of Deborah Kara Unger’s glacial aloofness in David Cronenberg’s Crash about Pike’s electrifying performance, a sense of hollowness that ensures she remains truly “gone” even when centre stage. She also gets the movie’s best lines: “We’re so cute I want to punch us in the face,” she tells Nick in one typically dry “romantic” moment; later, she recounts a withering catalogue of soul-destroying wifely duties including drinking beer while “watching Adam Sandler movies”. No wonder she goes Valentine’s Day shopping for a gun.

Although Hitchcock and Henri-Georges Clouzot have been cited as stylistic predecessors, the real eminence grise lurking in the background here is Paul Verhoeven, or, perhaps more accurately, writer Joe Eszterhas, uber-fiend of the 80s/90s erotic thriller genre. The opening movement of Gone Girl , with its sympathetic fall guy apparently framed for a horrendous crime that he may have actually committed, is a set-up that Eszterhas reworked time and time again, often to repetitive ends. Meanwhile, the third act is pure Basic Instinct , its she devil philosophy and orgasmic splashes of blood eerily replicating the cool frenzy of Verhoeven’s Euro-influenced Americana. More so than Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction (to which Fincher has acknowledged a distant debt), Gone Girl is umbilically tied to Eszterhas and Verhoeven’s disreputable blockbuster – although some may balk at such a tawdry comparison.

Shooting in handsome 6K digital widescreen, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth keeps the visual tone cool and detached even as events heat up, eschewing the tics and flashes of yore. This is a picture-perfect world, presented with the untouched clarity of a crime scene, fine-tuned and framed by Fincher, whose obsessive attention to detail mirrors that of his titular muse. At 149 minutes, the film never drags nor does its mood settle, slipping from classy narcissistic humour to exploitation-inflected thrills in an instant; mercurial, mystifying – and tantalisingly missing.

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  • Ben Affleck
  • Rosamund Pike
  • Gillian Flynn

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Ben Affleck in Gone Girl (2014)

With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent. With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent. With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.

  • David Fincher
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Ben Affleck
  • Rosamund Pike
  • Neil Patrick Harris
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  • 79 Metascore
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  • 64 wins & 188 nominations total

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  • Desi Collings

Tyler Perry

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Carrie Coon

  • Margo Dunne

Kim Dickens

  • Detective Rhonda Boney

Patrick Fugit

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David Clennon

  • Rand Elliott

Lisa Banes

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Missi Pyle

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Emily Ratajkowski

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Casey Wilson

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Lola Kirke

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Did you know

  • Trivia Ben Affleck postponed directing Live by Night (2016) in order to work on this film with David Fincher , even stating, "He's the only director I've met who can do everybody else's job better than they could." On-set one day, Affleck changed the lens setting on a camera an almost indiscernible amount, betting a crew member that Fincher wouldn't notice. Affleck lost the bet as Fincher brought up, "Why does the camera look a little dim?"
  • Goofs In a flashback to 2010, Nick Dunne is shown playing Battlefield 3 (2011) , which was released a year later.

[last lines]

Nick Dunne : What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

  • Crazy credits Instead of the traditional 20th Century Fox music that accompanies the logo in the beginning usually, a track from the soundtrack, "What Have We Done to Each Other?" (the first track) plays while the logo is shown, and continues through the Regency logo and the movie's opening credits.
  • Connections Featured in The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Chris Pratt/Rosamund Pike/John Mellencamp (2014)
  • Soundtracks Saved by Zero Written by Adam Woods, Alfred Agius, Cy Curnin (as Cyril Curnin), James West-Oram & Peter Greenall Performed by The Fixx Courtesy of Geffen Records Under license from Universal Music Enterprises

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  • How long is Gone Girl? Powered by Alexa
  • October 3, 2014 (United States)
  • United States
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  • Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA (location)
  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • New Regency Productions
  • TSG Entertainment
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  • $61,000,000 (estimated)
  • $167,767,189
  • $37,513,109
  • Oct 5, 2014
  • $369,330,363

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  • Runtime 2 hours 29 minutes
  • Dolby Digital
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Dolby Surround 7.1

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movie review of gone girl

Film Review: ‘Gone Girl’

Director David Fincher and stars Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck are at the top of their game in this mesmerizing adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel.

By Justin Chang

Justin Chang

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Gone Girl David Fincher Ben Affleck

A lady vanishes and is soon presumed dead, but it’s her marriage that winds up on the autopsy table in “ Gone Girl ,” David Fincher ’s intricate and richly satisfying adaptation of Gillian Flynn ’s 2012 mystery novel. Surgically precise, grimly funny and entirely mesmerizing over the course of its swift 149-minute running time, this taut yet expansive psychological thriller represents an exceptional pairing of filmmaker and material, fully expressing Fincher’s cynicism about the information age and his abiding fascination with the terror and violence lurking beneath the surfaces of contemporary American life. Graced with a mordant wit as dry and chilled as a good Chablis, as well as outstanding performances from  Ben Affleck and a revelatory Rosamund Pike , Fox’s Oct. 3 wide release should push past its preordained Oscar-contender status to galvanize the mainstream.

After the perceived commercial disappointment of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (2011), despite an eventual worldwide haul of more than $230 million, Fincher’s latest R-rated, two-and-a-half-hour screen version of a phenomenally successful potboiler will have an easier time translating its considerable pedigree, critical plaudits and awards-season hype into must-see status. It helps that the director is working on a significantly lower budget this time around (about $50 million), from a novel that has neither steeped too long in the public consciousness nor spawned any prior movies. It also helps that “Gone Girl,” unlike “Dragon Tattoo,” registers as more than just a technically immaculate, dramatically superfluous exercise in style.

Making an impressive screenwriting debut (with adaptations of her two other novels in the works), Flynn has ruthlessly streamlined but not materially altered her story, fully retaining its bifurcated, time-shuffling structure and elaborate, spoiler-susceptible twists. (To preserve the purity of the experience, read no further.) The sheer complexity of the narrative finds an ideal interpreter in Fincher, who boasts one of cinema’s great forensic minds, and who dissects the marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne (Affleck and Pike) with the same clinical precision and eye for minutiae he wielded in his serial-killer procedurals “Seven” and “Zodiac.” Together, he and Flynn spin this study of a troubled relationship into an extreme portrait of matrimonial hell, as well as a stark metaphor for just how little we may know or trust our so-called better halves.

Employing a quick still-shot montage to capture the well-kept lawns and empty storefronts of North Carthage, a sleepy Missouri town hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis, “Gone Girl” opens on the morning of the Dunnes’ fifth wedding anniversary, the same morning Amy inexplicably disappears from their home. Although Nick claims to have no idea what’s happened to his wife, it takes him little time to rouse the suspicions of Det. Rhonda Boney ( Kim Dickens ), whose thorough sweep of the premises and dogged investigation of his personal life yield considerable evidence that the Dunnes’ marriage, like their finances, has fallen on tough times.

As the case against Nick begins to mount, his seemingly insufficient displays of grief make him an easy target for professional witch hunters like Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle), a Nancy Grace-like cable harridan who leads the charge against him. It’s not long before Nick is being coached by not only his tough-but-loyal twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), but also a high-powered defense attorney, Tanner Bolt ( Tyler Perry ). Among other things, “Gone Girl” functions as a wickedly entertaining satire of our scandal-obsessed, trash-TV-addicted media culture; this is a movie as conversant with the tawdry true-crime sagas of Scott Peterson and Casey Anthony as it is with classic thrillers of domestic entrapment like “Rebecca,” “Diabolique,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Fatal Attraction.”

Through it all, the missing Mrs. Dunne remains a strong, insistent screen presence, popping up in regular flashbacks to her earlier, happier days in New York, where this brainy and beautiful young woman led a life of luxury, sophistication and modest celebrity. The full arc of her relationship with Nick, a working-class Midwesterner, comes into focus: their blissful first encounter and marriage in Manhattan; the slow draining of their resources, exacerbated by their layoffs from their writing jobs; and their eventual relocation to Nick’s Missouri hometown, where he sinks into laziness and despair, leaving Amy trapped in Nowheresville with a man who has lost all motivation to make her happy. Whispers of domestic violence, spousal neglect and infidelity emerge, and other suspicious figures flit into the frame, including Desi Collings ( Neil Patrick Harris ), a dapper ex-boyfriend of Amy’s, and Noelle Hawthorne (Casey Wilson), her meddlesome neighborhood pal.

It soon becomes clear that the central mystery of “Gone Girl” will hinge not on what happened to Amy, but rather on who she and Nick really are, and what brought them to this fateful point in their marriage — a question that the two leads’ initially poker-faced performances are in no hurry to answer. Whether it’s darting between past and present, or juxtaposing Amy’s cryptic diary entries with the handwritten clues she left behind as part of a fifth-anniversary “treasure hunt” for Nick, Flynn’s screenplay has an unusual ability to keep the story moving on multiple levels, commanding the viewer’s attention with nary an act of explicit violence for most of the film’s runtime. And when “Gone Girl” springs the first of several game-changing reversals around the halfway point, the pleasure stems less from shock value (negligible for those who’ve read the book) than from the sheer delight the filmmakers seem to take in pulling us deeper into their labyrinth.

Fincher is by now well versed in the art of misdirection, and his control of this material is assured and absolute. This is hardly the first time he’s forced us to question what we’re seeing and through whose eyes we’re seeing it (“Fight Club”), or examined the media’s tendency to distort and amplify paranoia (“Zodiac”), or juggled parallel time frames and dueling perspectives so as to complicate our sense of the truth (“The Social Network”). But what makes “Gone Girl” so particularly potent — and such an appropriate match for this filmmaker’s icy view of the human condition — is its deliciously cynical attitude toward the relationship at its core; its sly awareness of the thin line between love and hate, happiness and misery; and its skill at laying bare the cruel, manipulative behavioral patterns that spouses can lapse into over time.

Likely to elicit uncomfortable chuckles of recognition from women and men alike, the film views marriage as a performance of sorts, a contract under which husband and wife agree to a certain measure of pretense. The need to perform, privately as well as publicly, becomes quite literal in Nick and Amy’s case, and “Gone Girl” finally pushes this premise into a realm of nightmarish Grand Guignol absurdity. As it reaches a denouement that stays completely faithful to the novel’s wrap-up ( early reports to the contrary ), we’re left to entertain the notion that we may never know the whole truth about the person to whom we’ve said “I do” — and indeed, we’re probably better off not knowing.

Affleck has done some of his finest screen work playing men of power and privilege suddenly brought low by fate (George Reeves in “Hollywoodland,” a laid-off executive in “The Company Men”), and he’s perfectly cast as Nick Dunne, bringing just the right golden-boy-gone-to-seed air to a character who is slowly deprived of his dignity and privacy, inch by cruel inch. Often unfairly criticized early in his career for seeming smug, vain and inauthentic onscreen, Affleck is uniquely suited to the role of a man facing those very charges from a fickle and demanding public; it’s a tricky turn, requiring a measure of careful underplaying and emotional aloofness, and he nails it completely.

Still, as its title suggests, “Gone Girl” belongs to its leading lady. Pike is the sort of elegantly composed blonde beauty with whom Hitchcock would have had a field day, and some may well quibble that the actress’s cool British hauteur doesn’t fully capture Amy’s America’s-sweetheart side. Yet as evidenced by her years of solid supporting work, she also possesses the sort of ferocious charisma that magnetizes the screen, and it’s a thrill to watch her fully embrace the showiest, most substantial role of her career. Hers is the low, seductive voice we hear coaxing us through the story’s early passages, and hers is the character who ultimately exhibits the most dynamic range: In any given scene, her Amy can seem vulnerable, aggrieved, calculating, heroic, overmatched, viperous and terrifying.

Flynn’s novel has drawn criticism in some quarters for its alleged misogyny, a highly debatable charge that is largely neutralized here by the atmosphere of gender-blind misanthropy that pervades much of the director’s work. And in the end, Pike’s performance is too singular and vivid to be reduced to simplistic terms of degradation or empowerment; suffice to say that Amy Dunne earns her place alongside Mark Zuckerberg and Lisbeth Salander in Fincher’s gallery of pitiable-yet-monstrous protagonists, whose refusal to beg for the audience’s sympathy is exactly what makes them such undeniable objects of fascination.

The outstanding leads aside, nearly every scene of “Gone Girl” is dotted with terrific supporting players, all of whom fit seamlessly into its broad yet highly specific snapshot of post-recession American life — a portrait that stretches from a Manhattan literary enclave to a cabin hideaway in the Ozarks. Perry and Harris play expertly against type as the media-savvy lawyer and the creepy ex-boyfriend, respectively, while Pyle and Sela A. Ward give sharp turns as two rather different TV personalities who play their parts in spinning the Dunne saga for the outside world. David Clennon and especially Lisa Banes are the very picture of WASP entitlement as Amy’s socialite parents, while Dickens and Coon inject a contrasting note of blue-collar dependability as two women who struggle, not always easily, to give Nick a fair hearing.

As ever, Fincher’s behind-the-scenes collaborators turn in work of an exceptionally high standard. His camera unerringly well placed in every scene, d.p. Jeff Cronenweth brings a drab, underlit look to the Dunnes’ McMansion, the police station and other North Carthage locations (actually Cape Girardeau, Mo.), suitably nondescript in Donald Graham Burt’s production design. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, whose moody electronic compositions have become synonymous with the director’s work, once again devise a soundscape that all but pulses with dread, this time by lacing more traditional orchestral fare with their trademark synths.

Working without his usual partner Angus Wall (with whom he won Oscars for “The Social Network” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), editor Kirk Baxter cuts the picture to within an inch of its life while still allowing individual scenes and the overall structure to breathe; this is a movie you sink into even when you’re on the edge of your seat. Particularly fraught, violent moments are heightened by quick fade-ins and fade-outs, a hallucinatory effect that registers as palpably as a shudder.

Reviewed at Fox Studios, Century City, Calif., Sept. 15, 2014. (In New York Film Festival — opener.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 149 MIN.

  • Production: A 20th Century Fox release presented with Regency Enterprises in association with TSG Entertainment. Produced by Arnon Milchan, Reese Witherspoon, Cean Chaffin, Joshua Donen. Executive producers, Leslie Dixon, Bruna Papandrea.
  • Crew: Directed by David Fincher. Screenplay, Gillian Flynn, based on her novel. Camera (color, widescreen, Red Digital Cinema), Jeff Cronenweth; editor, Kirk Baxter; music, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross; production designer, Donald Graham Burt; supervising art director, Sue Chan; set decorator, Douglas Mowat; set designers, Timothy Croshaw, Barbara Mesney, Thomas T. Taylor, Jane Wuu; costume designer, Trish Summerville; sound (Dolby Digital), Steve Cantamessa; sound designer, Ren Klyce; re-recording mixers, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick; special effects supervisor, Ron Bolanowski; visual effects supervisor, Eric Barba; visual effects, Digital Domain, Ollin VFX, Artemple — Hollywood, Lola/VFX, Savaga Visual Effects, Cos FX Films; stunt coordinator, Mickey Giacomazzi; associate producer, James Davidson; assistant director, Courtenay Miles; casting, Laray Mayfield.
  • With: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, David Clennon, Lisa Banes, Missi Pyle, Emily Ratajkowski, Casey Wilson, Lola Kirke, Boyd Holbrook, Sela A. Ward.

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No Job, No Money and Now, No Wife

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By Manohla Dargis

  • Sept. 25, 2014

“Gone Girl,” the latest from that dark lord of cinema, David Fincher, opens with a man softly talking about his wife’s head. The image of his hand caressing a woman’s sleek blond hair in close-up indicates that it’s a lovely head, a lovely wife, too. Yet the violence of his words — he speaks of cracking her skull open and “unspooling” her brain — wakens an unease that trembles throughout this domestic horror movie. Those familiar with Mr. Fincher’s work may wonder, perhaps with a shudder or a conspiratorial smile, whether this head will share the fate of another head belonging to another pretty wife, a gift that was boxed and delivered in one of the hellish circles girdling his shocker “Seven.”

Unspooling is such an inapt word — can brains, after all, be unspooled? — that it immediately puts dread in check. No matter how brutal the images generated by these words, surely there’s more in store than blunt-force entertainment. Well, yes and no, which is sometimes the case with Mr. Fincher. One of those filmmakers whose technical prowess can make the mediocrity of his material seem irrelevant (almost), Mr. Fincher is always the star of his work. His art can overwhelm characters and their stories to the point that they fade away, leaving you with meticulous staging and framing, and edits as sharp as blades. It’s no accident that the first time you fully see Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), the man who had been discoursing so vividly about his wife’s head, he’s alone.

(“Gone Girl” opens the 52nd New York Film Festival on Friday and opens in theaters next Friday.)

“ Gone Girl ” is set in the recessionary present in a small fictional Missouri town, North Carthage. Around the time you meet Nick, Mr. Fincher folds in some typical snapshots of desperate Anytown, U.S.A.: empty shops, vacant streets and homeless people tramping into the void. Nick and his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), aren’t headed for Brokesville quite yet, but they’re clinging hard to the status quo. They’re leasing their big, ugly house, and their bank account is running on fumes. The screenwriter, Gillian Flynn, adapting her novel of the same title, was a television critic for Entertainment Weekly who was laid off, and her characters share the same hard-knock fate: Nick, some kind of magazine writer, lost his New York job, as did Amy, who wrote quizzes for women’s magazines. (Was that a job? A. Yes, B. No, C. I doubt it.)

Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck in "Gone Girl," directed by David Fincher.

Times are hard, kind of, for Nick and Amy, but, as you discover in a series of flashbacks, they moved to North Carthage only when Nick’s mother received a cancer diagnosis. She died, and shortly after, so did the bloom on the marriage, though how it fades depends on who’s confessing and complaining. In the book, the narrative duties are fairly evenly distributed between Nick and Amy, who recount alternating versions of their happy times and unhappily ever after, with him taking you through events as they happen in the first person, while her point of view comes into focus partly through her detailed diary entries. The movie more or less duplicates this he-says, she-writes pattern, although with a critical difference: Nick’s story doesn’t unfold wholly through his first-person account.

Mr. Fincher, for all his modern themes and bleeding-edge technologies, is a classicist, and in “Gone Girl,” he creates a sense of Nick’s subjectivity the usual way, mostly by placing the camera next to the character and deploying point-of-view shots that are seamlessly integrated with shots of, and generated by, other characters. Shortly after the movie opens, the plot fires up, as you watch Nick return home to find that Amy has gone missing. You see him pick up their cat and watch him fling open doors, roam the halls and discover a broken glass table. In other words, here you know what Nick knows, which, as it will turn out, isn’t much. Amy is gone, and as Nick, the police, the town, the news media and the country shift into progressively more hysterical crisis-and-circus mode, she stays gone.

Mr. Fincher’s compositions, camera work and cutting are, as always, superbly controlled. Working again with the cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth and the production designer Donald Graham Burt, he fashions an ever more haunted, haunting world that wavers so violently between ordinariness and aberration that, as in his other movies, the two soon blur. Nick may feel at home in North Carthage, but, from that first shot of him alone in front of his house — and from his first conversation with his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), in which they trade insults about Amy — he comes across as alienated, lost. Mr. Fincher underlines that isolation by showing Nick both alone in the frame and in his house, where he’s at times dwarfed and almost swallowed up by its generic, oversize rooms.

Amy’s voice-overs disrupt the movie’s inaugural seriousness. In flashbacks introduced by her scribbling in her diary, she reveals that she’s the inspiration for a beloved and profitable book series about a girl, Amazing Amy, created by her psychologist parents, Rand and Marybeth (David Clennon and Lisa Banes ). Like Hannibal Lecter (a psychiatrist), Amy’s parents have profited from messing around in other people’s heads. (Your parents plagiarized your childhood, Nick says with husbandly commiseration.) They’re cartoons, but then, so is Amy, whose narration Ms. Pike delivers in an affectedly hushed, conspiratorial voice that’s so arch that you can picture Amy’s lips curling at the edges. Mr. Fincher doesn’t show you her sneer; he doesn’t have to. It imbues every word she says, instantly casting her as an unreliable narrator.

movie review of gone girl

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Given that the first half of “Gone Girl” is structured as a mystery, this unreliability presents a problem because it throws everything Amy says into doubt. Along with Mr. Affleck’s supple, sympathetic performance, Amy’s voice-over tips the scales so far in Nick’s favor that it upends Ms. Flynn’s attempt to recreate the even-steven dynamic from her book. Then again, the movie is on Nick’s side from the start, making the case for him, from the way he services Amy sexually to the gentle way he treats their cat. He sometimes explodes, as when he throws a glass to the floor while talking to two cops, Boney (an excellent Kim Dickens) and Gilpin (a dryly funny Patrick Fugit). The Nick here, like so many noir heroes, is simply, too simply, a decent, deflated, ordinary sap with serious woman problems.

The same is true of this movie. At its strongest, “Gone Girl” plays like a queasily, at times gleefully, funny horror movie about a modern marriage, one that has disintegrated partly because of spiraling downward mobility and lost privilege. Yet, as sometimes happens in Mr. Fincher’s work, dread descends like winter shadows, darkening the movie’s tone and visuals until it’s snuffed out all the light, air and nuance. As Nick becomes mired in the search for Amy, she confides how romance gave way to marital dreariness, accusations, his mounting loathing, her growing fear. One minute, he was leaving empty takeout containers strewn about and playing video games; the next, she says, he was raising a hand to her and she was cowering in their bed. She has the victim thing down cold.

By the movie’s second half, you may wish that Amy would stay gone. Ms. Pike has some fine scenes in this section, notably with a pair of hilariously sly lowlifes, Greta and Jeff (Lola Kirke and Boyd Holbrook), who, taken with a pompous, wealthy fool (Neil Patrick Harris as Desi), suggest that the movie is about to go deeper, that it will surprise you or stir you or say something, anything, maybe by making good on its scene-setting images of empty American stores. That never happens, and instead, the movie just hums along like the precision machine it is, even after it shifts tones again and enters Grand Guignol territory, with a flashing knife, gushing blood and surveillance footage of a seemingly tortured, horrifically abused and screaming woman. It’s a ghastly vision, although not for the reasons this movie would like.

“Gone Girl” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Extreme violence.

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movie review of gone girl

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By Peter Travers

Peter Travers

David Fincher’s shockingly good film version of Gone Girl is the date-night movie of the decade for couples who dream of destroying one another. Expect a stampede at the box office. Gone Girl is a movie of its cultural moment, an era when divorce won’t cut it if there are options for lethal revenge and aggravated assault. In the toxic marriage of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and Amy Elliott (Rosamund Pike), both partners are equal-opportunity liars and cheats. Or almost equal. Arguments between the sexes are going to be heated.

In her 2012 bestseller, Gillian Flynn made wicked sport of marriage in the new millennium. Working from an incisively shaped script by Flynn herself, director Fincher ( Fight Club , Seven , The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ) goes right for the jugular. No one does moral rot like Fincher. And with Affleck and Pike around to put a beautiful face on Mr. and Mrs. Wrong, the stage is set for diabolical fun that stings like a muthafucker.

Affleck’s Nick is a New York journalist jobbed out by the economy and forced to crawl home to Missouri, where he opens a bar with his twin sister, Margo (an indelibly vivid Carrie Coon), and goes to seed. Pike’s Amy, Nick’s socialite wife, is a trust-fund baby who’s also out of a writing career and way out of place in the Midwest.

Flynn, downsized from her trade as a writer and critic (a good one) for Entertainment Weekly , knows from the job-and-money squeeze. She structured her book as a he-said/she-said, starting on the day of the Dunnes’ fifth anniversary. It’s also the day Amy disappears amid signs of a bloody struggle at home, and Nick becomes a person of interest in the suspected murder of his missing, pregnant wife. Got it? Spoilers would kill the mystery, for those not among the more than 6 million who’ve read the book.

What you can know is that Gone Girl has the impact of a body-slam, hitting home in every scary, suspenseful, seductive particular. It’s a movie inferno with combustible performances. Affleck is terrific, undermining his good looks to suggest the soulless shallows that define Nick. For Pike, a Brit best known for supporting roles ( Pride & Prejudice , An Education ), this is a smashing, award-caliber breakthrough you’ll be talking about for years. Does she possess the role of Amy, or does the role possess her? Either way, she’s dazzling, depraved and dynamite.

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All the actors have killer moments – Tyler Perry as Nick’s shark lawyer, Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit as the cops on the case, and a stellar Neil Patrick Harris, who miraculously finds the romantic soul in a stalker perv from Amy’s past. On the tech side, Fincher vets, including cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, editor Kirk Baxter and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, artfully escalate the seething tension.

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Like the book, the movie begins with a man wanting to crack open his wife’s skull to find out, among other things, “What have we done to each other? What will we do?”

Gone Girl gives us a portrait of two vipers spitting venom at each other across the landscape of a recession-busted, morally bankrupt America. Even with Fincher’s unflinching gaze and Flynn’s incinerating wit, shards of humanity remain. Shards in which we might even see ourselves. It’s not a pretty picture.

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movie review of gone girl

Violent, layered adaptation is dark but thrilling.

Gone Girl Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Self-deceit will lead you nowhere; everyone has se

The main characters are both complex and extremely

Self-inflicted pain; discussions of false rape all

Couples are shown having sex in different position

Frequent language includes "f--k," "a--hole," "bit

Lots of brands/products seen and mentioned, includ

Characters toss back hard liquor in times of stres

Parents need to know that Gone Girl -- David Fincher's dark but engrossing psychological thriller based on Gillian Flynn's best-selling 2012 novel -- centers on flawed, disturbing characters (played by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, among others). The subject matter is as grim as it gets -- abduction,…

Positive Messages

Self-deceit will lead you nowhere; everyone has secrets; relationships have depths that no one outside of them could begin to guess at.

Positive Role Models

The main characters are both complex and extremely flawed. Their behavior is the opposite of exemplary. On the slim plus side, a detective sets about finding the truth, rather than easy answers. And two adult siblings are truly supportive of each other, even if they're far from perfect.

Violence & Scariness

Self-inflicted pain; discussions of false rape allegations; menacing moments with a stalker; a man shoves a woman while trying to rob her; a particularly gory scene involving a box cutter used to slash someone's neck. A man is shown roughing up a woman. The plot revolves around a missing woman; broken glass and blood are found at her home.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Couples are shown having sex in different positions. There's movement that suggests what they're doing, and, in one instance, a woman's breasts are plainly visible. A shower scene shows two people from behind (and, briefly, side-flash of the man's genitals). Fairly graphic discussions of sex.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Frequent language includes "f--k," "a--hole," "bitch," "c--t," and more.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Lots of brands/products seen and mentioned, including Volvo, Hasbro, Velveeta, Dunkin' Donuts, CBS, Coke, iPhone, iPad, Dreyers, Dell, Kit-Kat, Aim toothpaste, Big Lots, Fritos, 7-Up, Chevy Suburban, Ford, Prius, Roku.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters toss back hard liquor in times of stress.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gone Girl -- David Fincher 's dark but engrossing psychological thriller based on Gillian Flynn's best-selling 2012 novel -- centers on flawed, disturbing characters (played by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike , among others). The subject matter is as grim as it gets -- abduction, infidelity, murder, betrayal -- making it iffy for all but the oldest teens and adults, who can better process the story's complicated and often violent twists and turns. Expect plenty of swearing ("f--k," "c--t," and more), fairly graphic sex scenes (including a female character's bare breasts and a couple naked together in the shower, with the man's genitals glimpsed), some drinking, and one particularly gory scene involving a box cutter. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

Where to Watch

Videos and photos.

movie review of gone girl

Community Reviews

  • Parents say (34)
  • Kids say (44)

Based on 34 parent reviews

Intriguing and mysterious, yet sexually and violently graphic

What's the story.

On the day of his fifth wedding anniversary, bar owner Nick Dunne ( Ben Affleck ) faces a new world order: His wife, Amy ( Rosamund Pike ), has gone missing, their coffee table smashed to pieces. Cops descend upon the Dunnes' Missouri subdivision to help find her, but soon all eyes are trained on Nick, who hasn't exactly been a model husband. But Amy hasn't always been the perfect wife, either. Nick has his sister Margo (Carrie Coon) on his side and soon enlists a lawyer ( Tyler Perry ) famous for defending the indefensible. Everyone -- including Nick, who's desperate to clear his name -- wants to know: Where is Amy?

Is It Any Good?

Director David Fincher 's steady hand effortlessly guides GONE GIRL's transition from noir-ish page-turner to psychological thriller. It's a creepy, unsettling ride, testing audiences' loyalties and freaking them out a little, too, as they teeter to and fro. The book makes better work of asking salient questions about the nature of relationships; the movie amps up the source material's more tabloid-y side. It's violent, yes, but judiciously so, except for one scene that pushes boundaries -- perhaps so viewers can feel the impact, in full gruesomeness, of what humans are capable of, even if they don't appear to be.

In any case, we're riveted -- and not just because the framing and pacing and pretty much everything else about the movie are top-notch (except for the last 10 minutes, which feel tacked on), but because the leads are so compelling. Critics have long grumbled about Affleck's impenetrability. No matter who he's playing, we don't quite fully know what he's all about. But here he's totally present, and we sense his panic and confusion, anger and derision. It's quite a cocktail. But really, this is Pike's movie; in less able hands, the role of Amy, not to mention the scenery, would have been chewed to bits. Pike is precise, engaging, and perplexing. Even if you've already read the book, the film still holds your gaze.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about Gone Girl 's violence . How does it compare to what you've seen in other thrillers and/or horror movies? Does the one particularly gory/bloody scene have more impact because it's different from the rest of the movie? Why or why not?

What role does sex play in the story? How is it entangled with violence? What message does that send?

Are any of the characters admirable? Are they intended to be? Who are we meant to root for/sympathize with?

If you've read Flynn's novel, what do you think of this as an adaptation? Is it faithful to the original story? If not, do the changes serve the film?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : October 3, 2014
  • On DVD or streaming : January 13, 2015
  • Cast : Ben Affleck , Rosamund Pike , Neil Patrick Harris
  • Director : David Fincher
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors, Gay actors
  • Studio : Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • Genre : Thriller
  • Topics : Book Characters
  • Run time : 145 minutes
  • MPAA rating : R
  • MPAA explanation : a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language
  • Last updated : June 20, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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Gone Girl Review

Gone Girl

03 Oct 2014

145 minutes

David Fincher’s Gone Girl opens with a weirdly framed close-up of Amy Dunne’s (Rosamund Pike) head, while her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) muses on the often unspoken thoughts that might course through any marriage: “What are you thinking?” “How are you feeling?” “What have we done to each other?” The complex psychology and shifting dynamics of long-term relationships are just two of the engines driving Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 battle of the sexes bookbuster; others include the pernicious voyeurism of the media, the way we curate and present our personalities in the modern era and just how will Ben Affleck fit into that batsuit with that belly? The net result is, especially in its first two thirds, a cinematic equivalent of a juicy page-turner, a gripping, sharp, blissfully entertaining thriller that pushes every hot-topic button you can think of to become the must-talk-about film of the year.

It’s not hard to see why Fincher was attracted to Gone Girl. It touches base with much of his previous work: Panic Room (a key location is decked out to the rafters with surveillance equipment), Zodiac (the sense of a procedural in the information age) and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (a particularly violent bedroom encounter) are all touchstones. But more pertinently, there is a briskness and a malicious glee in telling a tale that harks back to Seven and The Game. There’s no head-in-the-box moment, just the buzz of a director delighting in leading you into some dark, dark recesses.

Flynn’s book shifts between first-person narratives told from Nick (the present) and Amy’s (the past) perspectives and Fincher’s film respects the structure. After a montage locating it squarely amid the McMansions and mailboxes of well-off America, Fincher gives us quickly sketched glimpses into Nick’s life — small talk with his sister (the excellent Carrie Coon), playing board games in his bar — before his world is turned upside down. With his wife missing, a smashed table and no apparent bloodbath, the investigation is led by the Marge Gunderson-esque Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens)

and sceptical sidekick Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit). You’d expect Fincher to be good at detective stuff — he gifts the cop pairing enough character not to feel rote, but not enough to slow things down — but he also excels at creating the hoopla around the CSI: the press conferences, the TV talk show debates, the community search, a candlelit vigil and the blurred line between culprit and celebrity.

If Nick’s tale feels like heartland for the director, the Amy side gives us a glimpse into what a David Fincher Romcom might feel like. As we meet them, the pair are at a party, people watching, joking about quinoa-ignorance (he thinks it’s a fish) and mispronouncing the lyrics to New York, New York (she sings “these bag-o-bones shoes”) before kissing in a sugar storm created by a backstreet bakery.

Early doors, Pike perfectly becomes the embodiment of Flynn’s notion of the “cool girl” — “a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes and burping” — but finds other colours, too. “We’re so cute I could punch us in face,” Amy tells Nick, as they open fortune cookies and swap matching anniversary presents. But this is Fincher — you can’t imagine Adam Sandler chowing down on Drew Barrymore for cunnilingus — and it is not long before fissures start to appear. A recession, two job losses and a pre-nup are just the start. Only in a Fincher film would a protagonist buy a gun for Valentine’s Day.

The first act is smartly sketched, a nice balance of character stuff and intriguing set-up. But moving into the middle section, Fincher and Flynn ratchet things up to a whole new level of compelling. As the truth about Amy’s disappearance emerges, Fincher turns the screws on Nick, rattling the skeletons in his closet — there are red herrings and red panties — sending him further down the river until he lawyers up with Tanner Bolt, the “Patron Saint Of Wife Killers” (Tyler Perry gives a nice comic energy without diluting the drama).

Affleck nimbly treads a tightrope between innocent, affable man accused and disillusioned husband who could happily strangle his wife. The grand design works because it finds a centre in its star.

In the end, Gone Girl is a film about image and perception. On the broader level, it’s about how the media builds fabulations that quickly get subsumed as truth, and the fickleness of the public that will swallow whatever narrative is being sold. On a more intimate level, it is about the façades we build, the masks we wear. The impossibility of knowing those closest to us (not to mention the depiction of marriage as a bleak prison) is a prevalent theme in art house cinema. Here we get it at the centre of a mainstream, white-knuckle crowd-pleaser.

Just as the emotions are stripped back and raw, so Fincher’s work is equally unshowy. The fanboys may pine for the coffee-pot shot bravura of Panic Room or the speeded-up rowing race set-piece of The Social Network, but this is the director working without flash and thunder, confident his narrative has more than enough. Still, working with regular DP Jeff Cronenweth, he pulls out subtly arresting images — Amy floating on a lilo in a swimming pool — that speak less to flair and more to style. Gone Girl’s filmmaking M.O. is cold, controlled and clinical. It doesn’t have a hair out of place.

Yet, a couple of things don’t quite come off. When the film comes to resolve itself, its solutions don’t satisfy, the third act powering down rather than ramping up. Also, Fincher doesn’t quite nail the tone in the home stretch. In its latter stages he tries to more overtly syringe satire into the grimness (especially around Neil Patrick Harris’ ex Desi) and it doesn’t quite land. But its scalpel-like dissection of the mindset of marriage still holds sway. If love is a battlefield, Fincher’s film is a despatch from the white-hot heat of carnage. For those in a relationship, you may recognise its petty hatreds, artful manipulations and quiet despair. For those who are not, it will make you thankful to be single.

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Gone Girl review: Dark and disturbing, this is one thriller you shouldn't miss

movie review of gone girl

David Fincher's Gone Girl is a thriller for grown-ups. It is stylish and provides you edge-of-the-seat suspense while posing intricate questions about men, women and the marriages they make.

movie review of gone girl

David Fincher

Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

movie review of gone girl

‘What are you thinking?’ ‘How are you feeling?’ ‘What have we done to each other?’ These are the normal give-and-take of modern married life, those questions which so frustrate and amaze us at times. But they have never sounded as chilling or as disturbing as they do in

Ben Affleck is the one voicing these ‘primal’ questions even as we see a pretty blonde head on the screen. Things couldn’t be too golden for the blonde head in question (pun intended) because Affleck goes on to say, “I imagine cracking open her head, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers.”

So, we establish one thing early on, a romance this is not but a sick –yet very satisfying – unravelling of a modern-day marriage. Affleck plays Nick Dunne, the husband, and the Rosamund Pike is his wife Amy Elliott Dunne and nothing is right with their world.

She goes missing and he is not exactly devastated. Star of Amazing Amy books since her childhood, written by her psychologist parents, Amy’s disappearance turns her into a media darling. Even as searches and vigils are organised for her, Nick’s lies and smug persona make the tabloid audience question – is he the one who killed her.

Their back story does not help either – they were both writers in New York before recession and Nick’s mother’s cancer forced them to relocate to depressed Missouri. In terms of money, all they have is a trust fund in Amy’s name.

To say any more would lessen your watching experience of this chilling thriller which has enough twists and turns to keep you glued to your seat. For all you book aficionados who want to know if director David Flincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Se7en) is true to Gillian Flynn’s bestseller on which the film is based, the answer is largely. However, he has done away with the wit and the lighter moments of the novel and made it deeper and darker. Fincher never brings it to a boil but instead keeps you simmering till you cannot take it anymore.

As the husband and wife both have their say (she through diary excerpts that we keep on hearing), the film runs more like ‘who to believe’ than ‘who did it’. Just like an onlooker watching the slow death of a marriage, you are hard pressed to understand who’s saying the truth, or, in fact, if there is a ‘truth’ in situations such as this.

The lead actors and its first-class supporting cast give the film its intensity. In one of his better performances, Affleck is utterly believable as the clueless husband in a troubled marriage. The real revelation of the film is Pike. She beautifully juggles the various moods of her character and goes from manipulative to vulnerable in the fluttering of an eyelash. Her expressive reading of diary entries just heightens the sense of dread, the feeling of something terrible just about to happen.

Tyler Perry as smooth-talking lawyer whose speciality is saving husbands guilty of killing their wives, Kim Dickens as the detective investigating the case and Carrie Coon as Nick Dunne’s sister Margo are perfectly cast. The only misfit in terms of casting is the highly talented Neil Patrick Harris who looks like a caricature of the obsessed lover in the film.

At two hours and 25 minutes, the film is quite long but we would not want to change a thing about it. The film works more as a formulaic thriller which has more style than substance but when you walk out of the theatre you are thinking of men, women and marriages they make. It leaves you disturbed and sometimes, that is a good thing.

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