Gone Girl a Mostly Thrilling Thriller
Film based on popular Gillian Flynn novel will leave viewers unsettled
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2014 9:25 AM CDT
This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Ben Affleck in a scene from "Gone Girl."   (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Merrick Morton)

(Newser) – "Chilling," "unsettling," and "manipulative" is what critics are saying about Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as Nick and Amy, a husband and wife trying to make it in a small town in Missouri—just the type of descriptors you probably want for a mystery-thriller about what happens when Nick becomes a suspect in Amy's sudden disappearance. Here's what the critics have to say:

  • For Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle, the movie starts off "brilliant, not just a triumph of story but of strategy," and maintains that momentum throughout … until the last 20 minutes. That's when LaSalle says the movie "frays"—a "Swiss watch of storytelling [that] turns into a bad digital clock circa 1986, flashing the wrong numbers." He praises the acting, especially that of Pike, proclaiming that "everyone who sees Gone Girl will walk out raving about" her.

  • Manohla Dargis is similarly thrown off by the shift midway through the film, writing for the New York Times that "by the movie's second half, you may wish that Amy would stay gone." Although Dargis concedes that David "Fincher's compositions, camera work, and cutting are, as always, superbly controlled," she adds that the film "plays like a queasily, at times gleefully, funny horror movie about a modern marriage." But evenutally, "dread descends like winter shadows, darkening the movie's tone and visuals until it's snuffed out all the light, air, and nuance."
  • James Rocchi writes at The Wrap that Fincher's humor is "the spoonful of sugar that helps the malevolence go down in his films," and Gone Girl is no exception, with "top-notch suspenseful storytelling" and "razor-edged wit." He also lauds the supporting cast (including Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry) as "a thing of wonder" and praises the movie overall as "that rare entertainment that rewards your intelligence instead of insulting it, that rare thriller interested in emotional wounds as much as physical ones."
  • But Gone Girl isn't as alluring as Fincher's The Social Network, laments Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, asking: "Who could have predicted that a film about murder, betrayal, and deception would be less exciting than a film about a website?" The film that Lane at first calls "natural Fincherland" soon devolves into a movie that "lacks clout." He also can't help but note that Gone Girl is "meant to inspire debates about whether Amy is victimized or vengeful, and whether Nick deserves everything he gets, but, really, who cares?"

 

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