“The primal questions of a marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other?” The voice is Ben Affleck’s, and the image on the screen is the back of a woman’s head resting on a pillow—his wife’s head. She is blonde, and even before she turns to face the camera, we know she will be beautiful. (She is, after all, played by Rosamund Pike.) It all might make for a touching opening to the film Gone Girl, if only Affleck’s conjugal musings did not take this unpromising turn: “I imagine cracking open her head, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers.” Umm, maybe better just to ask?
Affleck plays Nick Dunne, the husband; Pike plays Amy Elliott-Dunne, the wife; and the fate of her pretty head—along with the rest of her—is the central mystery of David Fincher’s faithful, intriguing adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s gazillion-selling novel.
Like the book, the film tells its story, for a while at least, in the form of two interwoven strands of he-said/she-said: the narrative DNA of an unraveling marriage. We watch as Nick, on the morning of the couple’s fifth anniversary, goes to the bar he co-manages with his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), for a far-too-early whiskey. When he returns to his home—a lifeless McMansion in depressed North Carthage, Missouri—his wife is missing, and there are signs of a struggle. He calls the police, and two detectives (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) arrive to conduct an investigation that leads, inevitably, to Nick himself. Does he seem insufficiently concerned about Amy’s disappearance? How can he be so clueless regarding her daily life? Why doesn’t he even know her blood type? And what’s with that shit-eating grin he seems incapable of suppressing?