‘Gone Girl’ showcases enthralling acting and suspense

Bella McWhorter

Film adaptations have the unfortunate tendency to support the all too often repeated phrase, “The book was better.” Gone Girl, first and foremost a book written by author Gillian Flynn, refuted this assumption, as it is both an impressive film and  novel.

NICK DUNNE (Ben Affleck) is interrogated by police about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of his wife Amy (Roasmund Pike) in the film “Gone Girl”.
NICK DUNNE (Ben Affleck) is interrogated by police about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of his wife Amy (Roasmund Pike) in the film “Gone Girl”.

Gone Girl follows the mystery case of the apparent disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), wife to Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck). Rather than focusing on Amy’s plight, the film follows Nick through a series of events that consistently point to him as the prime suspect in the case, despite his pleading innocence.

A noteworthy aspect of this film is the multitude of genres present. The movie is primarily a mystery thriller, but the romantic details of Nick and Amy’s love story are woven into the plotline. The movie also features dark humor guaranteed to generate a laugh, both because of the nerve-inducing suspense or because it is truly comical.

Throughout the film, Affleck truly proves his acting prowess. It is true that Pike’s character is by far the most complex one, and she plays her part well. Her character development on screen is a shocking aspect of the plot that makes the film worthy of its written counterpart. However, the story follows Nick, and he hogs much of the screen time in the first half, as Amy’s character is initially only defined by a few flashbacks and voiceovers from her written journal and letters to her husband.

Affleck is able to capture the quirks of his character with his on screen mannerisms, prompting viewers to see him as the main suspect. Affleck builds two severely contrasting character complexes — one that screams of guilt and one that prompts doubt of his involvement in the crime. This is true until the second half of the film, when it is revealed which of these people Nick really is.

The film’s strong suit lies in the multilayered themes that interweave throughout the plot.

The film explores what romantic partners seek from their marriage. Nick and Amy exemplify partners who use each other to portray the people who they wish they were, prompting the question of who exactly these characters are when they are not together.

The result is, to say the least, a shocking twist in a plot already spinning with suspense, murder, and disappearance.

As Nick and Amy’s characters evolve, the ugly colors of marriage are shown through the fact that, in every relationship, partners cannot know everything about each other. Amy hid behind a false portrayal of herself in order to be the perfect “cool girl” for her husband. Nick naively believed his wife was who her actions portrayed her to be because he wanted her to be real.

What partners know and don’t know about each other continues to be a prevailing theme and acts as a motive behind many questionable actions.

The movie follows a multitude of storylines that remain relevant to the main plot through their purpose to build character development.

Frequently, the film flashes back to the married couple’s past life–how they met, the beginning years of their marriage during the financial crisis, and the ups and downs of their marriage. Though this adds interesting insight on the stark contrast between the character’s past and present selves, this plotline also adds minutes to a movie that could be shorter.

The beginning of the film provides the heat-of-the-moment portion where viewers sit at the edge of their seats and wonder about the confusing circumstances of Amy’s disappearance. This suspense, coupled with Nick’s suspicious actions, allows viewers’ minds to frantically search for a plausible answer.

However, during certain flashbacks, the movie has the tendency to drag on.

Undoubtedly, the movie thrives off of the question: Is Nick Dunne responsible for the disappearance of his wife, Amy Dunne? Had the movie been wholeheartedly based off of this one question, it would hardly be worth two hours and 29 minutes of anyone’s time.

Fortunately for Gone Girl, this question is answered during Amy’s revealing monologue midway through, which warps the storyline into a different direction based off of a new probing question. With frequent plot twists, a continuity of suspense, and impressive acting, Gone Girl matches, if not exceeds, the excellence of Flynn’s acclaimed book.