Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
‘What are you thinking?’ ‘How are you feeling?’ ‘What have we done to each other?’ These are the normal give-and-take of modern married life, those questions which so frustrate and amaze us at times. But they have never sounded as chilling or as disturbing as they do in
Ben Affleck is the one voicing these ‘primal’ questions even as we see a pretty blonde head on the screen. Things couldn’t be too golden for the blonde head in question (pun intended) because Affleck goes on to say, “I imagine cracking open her head, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers.”
So, we establish one thing early on, a romance this is not but a sick –yet very satisfying – unravelling of a modern-day marriage. Affleck plays Nick Dunne, the husband, and the Rosamund Pike is his wife Amy Elliott Dunne and nothing is right with their world.
She goes missing and he is not exactly devastated. Star of Amazing Amy books since her childhood, written by her psychologist parents, Amy’s disappearance turns her into a media darling. Even as searches and vigils are organised for her, Nick’s lies and smug persona make the tabloid audience question – is he the one who killed her.
Their back story does not help either – they were both writers in New York before recession and Nick’s mother’s cancer forced them to relocate to depressed Missouri. In terms of money, all they have is a trust fund in Amy’s name.
To say any more would lessen your watching experience of this chilling thriller which has enough twists and turns to keep you glued to your seat. For all you book aficionados who want to know if director David Flincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Se7en) is true to Gillian Flynn’s bestseller on which the film is based, the answer is largely. However, he has done away with the wit and the lighter moments of the novel and made it deeper and darker. Fincher never brings it to a boil but instead keeps you simmering till you cannot take it anymore.
As the husband and wife both have their say (she through diary excerpts that we keep on hearing), the film runs more like ‘who to believe’ than ‘who did it’. Just like an onlooker watching the slow death of a marriage, you are hard pressed to understand who’s saying the truth, or, in fact, if there is a ‘truth’ in situations such as this.
The lead actors and its first-class supporting cast give the film its intensity. In one of his better performances, Affleck is utterly believable as the clueless husband in a troubled marriage. The real revelation of the film is Pike. She beautifully juggles the various moods of her character and goes from manipulative to vulnerable in the fluttering of an eyelash. Her expressive reading of diary entries just heightens the sense of dread, the feeling of something terrible just about to happen.
Tyler Perry as smooth-talking lawyer whose speciality is saving husbands guilty of killing their wives, Kim Dickens as the detective investigating the case and Carrie Coon as Nick Dunne’s sister Margo are perfectly cast. The only misfit in terms of casting is the highly talented Neil Patrick Harris who looks like a caricature of the obsessed lover in the film.
At two hours and 25 minutes, the film is quite long but we would not want to change a thing about it. The film works more as a formulaic thriller which has more style than substance but when you walk out of the theatre you are thinking of men, women and marriages they make. It leaves you disturbed and sometimes, that is a good thing.