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It’s the one film I have been dying to see all year. I’m talking GONE GIRL, based on the best seller by Gillian Flynn who also wrote the screenplay.  I love a great thriller, love Ben Affleck and a beautiful woman, in this case a stunning Rosamund Pike who’s riveting in the role, and 145 minutes to really get lost in– and GONE GIRL really kept me going, though the ending may have been too far gone. GONE GIRL finds Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne who discovers that his tall blond Viking-esque wife Amy is gone. Where? Has she been kidnapped? Or worse, murdered? And by whom– THE HUSBAND? That’s a popular narrative. The media soon seizes on Nick as suspect number one.

And we wonder too, as we watch the action unfold, did he do it?  Affleck plays him on the razor’s edge of hot and creepy– which is exactly how the “hungry for a story” public is split. A female detective, the excellent and earthy Kim Dickens (THE BLIND SIDE) begins to detect things that don’t add up. Amy’s brittle, distraught parents enter the picture, as does a neighbor, an old boyfriend named Desi–a really intense Neil Patrick Harris, and a full-on star defense attorney named Tanner Bolt (!) devoted to men who may have murdered their wives.  He’s as dashing as his name sounds, and is played by Tyler Perry;  what a relief to see him handsome and charismatic out of  “MEDEA” drag. And that sexy little number from the “Blurred Lines” video Emily Ratajkowski makes an appearance.

Director David Fincher (“Seven,” “The Social Media”) is at home with this dark, bloody material;  he soaks us in it, forensically, and is a master at sorting out the various strands of an increasingly circuitous, psychologically complicated story, shifting the chronology so that it makes linear, logical, and emotional sense. There’s a lot going on that I cannot talk about; don’t want to ruin it. I didn’t read the book and was SO glad I hadn’t. The film propelled me, then up-ended me at every turn–and I loved the ride. And that’s just the surface.

Underneath is a beating drum, a constant wavering between perception and reality that vibrates through our increasingly media-driven, “selfied” lives which has made it more and more difficult to locate the line between reality and TV, the oxymoron of modern life. Fincher parades before us a fickle media who loves Nick one day, then hates him, then loves him the next. When Affleck as Nick delivers the complaint, it has resonance in real life–we know he’s lived it.

There’s a blonde, hard featured, hate-mongering talk show host  (can Nancy Grace sue?) played by Missi Pyle, driving her ratings with lip-smacking details of a murderous cad of a husband. Later, a black-haired pale-skinned vampire of a “newswoman” played by Sela Ward  salivates over Nick before she sinks her teeth into him during an exclusive interview. When she struts out of the room in her revealing little black dress and snaps “Mike him”– it’s as though she’s preparing him for execution.

How well each of the characters can manipulate their story to control what people think  is the name of the game and the heart of the movie. All of us may be con artists, trying to get our story to stick, attorneys and clients figuring out what will play, and it has driven some folks mad. Even Amy  to some extent is a fictitious character manipulated by her parents who made their fortune by writing a series of AMAZING AMY children’s books based on their daughter’s life–but perfecting in fiction her “imperfections” in real life.

Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say that everyone in GONE GIRL is dealng with the same problem: where is the truth–and what do you do with it once you find it? That brings me to the ending which I will not divulge, but the air went out of the room dramatically for me as the credits came up. I wanted different. I wanted more. Let’s just say, that the truth-seekers among us have their work cut out for them, but perhaps this bloody world — like the Girl in question– is too far gone. SEE IT. GONE GIRL gives us what we crave–and lets us know the price we’ve paid.

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