An easygoing, unemployed writer (Ben Affleck), recently moved back to his suburban Missouri home from the big city and living off the fruit of his cold, famed wife's (Rosamund Pike) trust fund, ventures out one morning and returns to find her vanished with only a few scant clues remaining. As the investigation heats up and takes on national media attention, he becomes the central suspect in the case, while passages from his wife's diary offer insight into their complicated marriage and hints as to what happened in the time leading up to her disappearance. Adapted by Gillian Flynn from her own bestselling novel, Gone Girl is a serpentine, dressed up dime novel mystery that doesn't really warrant or benefit from David Fincher's stylish, trademarked treatment. Affleck and Pike are effective enough in their roles, but never really soar, and receive sturdy support from Kim Dickens as a lead investigator, Carrie Coon as Affleck's concerned twin sister, Neil Patrick Harris as Pike's creepy and successful stalker, and Tyler Perry, surprisingly, as a high profile attorney who takes on the case. Despite my issues with the material and also the fact that its twists aren't as shocking as many would lead you to believe, Gone Girl still makes cogent points on marriage and media manipulation, contains several memorable sequences (a wildly bloody one in particular I still can't get out of my head), and thankfully opts for a meaningful, anticlimactic finale that may send you spouting profanities at the screen as it did several people at my screening.
** 1/2 out of ****