Video: A disappearing act

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2008
In order to figure out his character, Affleck researched and studied several men who were accused and convicted of killing their wives, paying particular attention to Scott Peterson.

by Richard Gould

If you’ve made it to late January without learning the surprises GONE GIRL has in store, then you’ve been on full spoiler alert, and congrats. I’ll offer none here except to say that this is David Fincher’s very best film, a thriller that unsettles to its bones, with a spiritual heft that Alfred Hitchcock would instantly spot as his own. Adapted from Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of a disappeared wife–suspicion gathers on her husband as the story spreads to smalltown Missouri, then to the cable news circus–the film turns a sardonic gaze on those familiar pantomimes dragged out of friends and family when tragedy morphs into “true crime” for the world’s consumption. But along with this crime’s telegenic press-conferences, hotlines, candlelight vigils and compromising photos gone viral, a ghost of special unease seems to hover over the Dunne household. Hubby Nick at the hurricane’s eye is off-key emotionally and not forthcoming to police, and sorting out the couple’s increasingly suspect home life falls to homicide detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens). Fincher, whose craft and maturity always seemed miles ahead of the post-adolescent stories that brought him fame, seems freed here to tackle some demons much closer to home–right at the breakfast table, in fact. That, along with two indelible performances and a haunting score, makes the film a neo-noir landmark. Can the dings of real life and simple betrayal call up the weapons of social pathology? Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star in a stirring tale of love and marriage, taken to its natural conclusion.

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