Nick Dunne may have killed his missing wife, Amy. We assess their lives in two parallel stories, while a media circus unfolds.
Thankfully, Nick is helped by his sister and a hotshot lawyer.
David Fincher's version of Gillian Flynn's novel is gripping. Ben Affleck good, Rosamund Pike and Tyler Perry terrific.
A Basic, Fatal, Jagged Attraction with a frustrating ending.
Or if you prefer the longer review...
Gone Girl may be based on Gillian Flynn's best selling novel, but there's no shadow of a doubt who directed it. Though his opening titles are usually the standout moments of most of David Fincher's films, here each credit is so brief it barely registers.
The plot: on the day of Nick Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary, he gets home to find his wife Amy missing.
(She's the daughter of a best selling children's novelist whose formative years inspired the Amazing Amy books.)
The movie charts Dunne's search for her and the media circus which ensues, while running parallel is the story of how they met and her diary.
To reveal much more would be spoilerific, except to say nothing is what it seems as Fincher and Flynn weave a jet black comedy at times channelling classic thrillers Jagged Edge, Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, with a subtle nod to the house from North By Northwest.
Shot on high def video, it features solid turns from Ben and Rosamund Pike, while Neil Patrick Harris plays it straight as Amy's wealthy first boyfriend Desi Collings in a film which treads a tightrope between comedy and thriller.
Tyler Perry also shines as Tanner Bolt, the hotshot lawyer who defends Dunne when he becomes prime suspect, and Carrie Coon is hugely likeable as Nick's twin sister Margo.
It unfolds beautifully, the cinematic equivalent of a page-turner which keeps you hooked from start to end.
The problem, as with Fincher's Zodiac, is the resolution. This feels frustratingly open ended, as though Flynn and Fincher painted themselves into a corner and then just thought they'd wait for the paint dry by fading to black.
Fans of Seven will recall Fincher chose to film the version of the script which he wasn't supposed to get. He's one of those super smart guys who wisely hates giving audiences what they want, so we get those nagging cinematic mental scratches that won't heal. And maybe that's why he's one of the best directors working today. Getting what we want isn't always great for an audience.
Had he made Fatal Attraction, chances are he would have opted for the art house ending in which Glenn Close's character commits suicide rather than the crowd pleasing 'wife gets revenge' finale reshoot we wound up with.
That said, Gone Girl is a compelling piece of work, at times enjoyably trashy, and never dull.
It may not be up there with Zodiac and The Game - the echoes of which resound here - but it's still a great watch.Suggest a correction