Marriage, media, and possible murder all combine and coalesce in the new film Gone Girl.  This movie is very dark, excellently acted, and wickedly funny.
Gone Girl opens with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returning to his Missouri home on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing and signs of a violent struggle.  At first, Detective Rhoda Boney (Kim Dickens) isn't sure about what happened, and the community rallies together to find Amy (called "Awesome Amy" after the children's book character her parents based on her).  But Nick's poor appearances in the media make him the prime suspect; and his sister Margo (Carrie Coon) supports Nick but soon starts finding out Nick's numerous dirty secrets.

And Amy?  We see and learn about her through her journal entries -- and her marriage to Nick.  At first they were blissful, successful newlyweds living and working in Manhattan.  But when they were both laid off and money ran low, they moved to Nick's hometown.  Amy becomes more fearful of Nick's violent side, as their marital problems lead to hear fears that Nick could hurt her, or even kill her.  And then there's a big change...

Gone Girl is a combination murder mystery and social commentary.  The movie offers plenty of evidence that Nick might be innocent -- or that his secrets and demons could have destroyed his once-perfect marriage.  At the same time, everything plays out in the court of public opinion, whether it's the Nancy Grace-style reporter Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle) who spends all her time arguing that Nick is a guilty sociopath, or Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), Nick's celebrity lawyer who's as focused on public perception as on the law.  And we get to see the pressures of marriage that certainly had an impact on both Nick and Amy.

This all works together thanks to some terrific actors, directed by David Fincher.  Ben Affleck, who's gained respect and success in recent years, plays Nick perfectly as the regular guy who could as easily be innocent as guilty.  Rosamund Pike is amazing as Amy, who paints a different picture of things than her husband does (and who also has a way of getting what she wants).  The supporting cast is terrific in their roles, and Fincher manages to bring a bleakness and darkness to the proceedings -- along with frequent blasts of dark humor.

Gone Girl is certainly grim, and it's also engaging and gives the viewer plenty to think about.  Just like a great movie should.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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