Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are Nick and Amy Dunne. They met in New York City where they were magazine writers, though she also was the basis for her parents' passive-aggressive series of children's books called Amazing Amy. They met cute, fell in love, got married, lost their jobs in the recession and eventually moved back to his Missouri hometown to care for Nick's dying mother. After her passing, they're stuck in a McMansion with no spark in their marriage. Nick runs a bar - meta-named The Bar - with his twin sister Go (short for Margo, played tartly by Carrie Coon) while Amy, who is so NYC that she probably thinks of anything west of the Hudson as "Indian country", is clearly bored to death.
On the day of their 5th anniversary, Nick returns from his usual morning check-in with Go at The Bar to find the front door open, signs of a struggle and a smashed glass coffee table and Amy gone. He calls the cops and as time goes on he finds himself to be the prime suspect because the husband always does it, right? He stumbles into a couple of situations which make him look like a bounder and this doesn't even count the ex-student mistress ("Blurred Lines" video hottie/Victoria's Secret model Emily Ratajkowski) no one initially knows about. Eventually, despite the lack of a body, he is charged with Amy's murder. Except...
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
She ain't exactly dead. But you probably suspected that, didn't you? (We did, voicing our suspicion about 30 seconds before it's revealed.)
*** END SPOILER ***
Since the back half of the movie is off-limits for recapping, it's to play What Works/What Doesn't. Rosamund Pike got an Oscar nomination for her performance (I'm writing this several weeks after viewing) and I don't think it's that exceptional. Sharon Stone was better in a similar Hitchcockian murder blonde role (hint, hint) and I didn't get much of an Oscar-worthy vibe off her.
Affleck is OK, but I kept thinking about what makes his performance work is what made the normally laughable Denise Richards so effective in Wild Things (beyond her big champagne-drenched boobs) - she was playing a dumb girl who thought she was smart and thus it seemed spot on, though more by fortunate accident than deliberate portrayal. Affleck gets bad-rapped for his acting a bit much (he was quite good as the doomed Superman George Reeves in the middling Hollywoodland), but I never felt he was being deliberate as Nick.
The rest of the cast is uniformly solid with, as you may've heard, Tyler Perry(?!?!?) totally killing it as a superstar defense attorney hired to flack for Nick. Seriously, he rules and it's time for him to hang up his Madea dress. Scoot McNairy and Neil Patrick Harris as a pair of Amy's exes, Kim Dickens as the lead detective, Patrick Fugit (the kid from Almost Famous all growed up!) as her "he's guilty" sidekick and Missy Pyle as Nancy Grace in all but name round out the cast.
I wasn't crazy about Fincher's too-dim compositions which leave faces in near shadow as they're primarily backlit and I don't think Flynn's script (adapting her own novel, which I started, but didn't get far into) nails the media circus and marital commentary angles they seemed to be going for. There are several big logic gaps and a scene towards the end begs us to scream, "Why haven't they bathed all the blood off?!?!?" The Honest Movie Trailer (posted below) describes it as a big Lifetime movie, but Fincher never gets the pot boiling enough. Trashy material needs some tawdry heat and Gone Girl never escapes the chilly waters of the Mississippi which flows by.
Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable.
If you've seen the movie (or don't care about tons of spoilers), watch this; it's a hoot: