David Fincher set out to make the nastiest, most poisonous movie about marriages gone bad ever made, and I think he succeeded. Fincher and Gillian Flynn, the author of the novel and screenplay, came up with a toxic cocktail, laced with dark humor, scabrous satire and blistering performances. On the day of his fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns to his home after sulking at the bar he owns with his sister (a funny Carrie Coon) to discover his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is missing. Nick calls the police and the in-laws, and quickly finds himself sucked up in a media circus that leaves him dazed and confused. His demeanor in public is a strange combination of a malaise and ill-timed smiles. Yeah … he’s a suspect. Through a series of narrated flashbacks, we hear the story of the Flynne marriage from Amy’s perspective, chronicled in her diary. Then, at about the halfway point, the movie goes completely, wonderfully insane. For those unaware of the plot twist, my best advice to you is that you should accept it—even though it’s totally bug nuts—sit back, and enjoy the rest of this messed-up ride. Anybody who goes to this movie thinking they’re going to see something grounded in reality will be setting themselves up for disappointment. Gone Girl is nightmarish fantasy, a hyper-sensationalized “what-if” that thrives on its implausibility. Had this movie tried to stick closer to reality, it would’ve killed too much of the fun. Pike, a British actress perhaps known best for Jack Reacher, gets the role of a lifetime with Amy, and she devours it. Affleck shows what’s been true all along in his career: He’s a fine actor capable of great nuance and a movie star of the highest order.

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