This movie exists on a spine of twists and surprises that will keep people recalling it for years. Gillian Flynn did an excellent job of honing her novel to a screenplay, pretty much by tossing out everything BUT the “Spine of Surprises”. And David Fincher did a marvelous job directing the piece, getting finely nuanced performances out of all the actors, and, along with his designers and lighting people, providing a dark look based on browns and ochers rather than blacks that should be emulated by many picture folk, who seem to feel that suspense and tension are built on not being able to see what’s on the screen.
The acting deserves a lot of praise, from Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, and Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, and the amazing Carrie Coon, to Casey Wilson as a particularly nasty neighbor, and Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit as detectives. Affleck, in fact, marks a return to the sort of arrogant, smarmy character he used to play in all his movies, but with a maturity that makes those qualities understandable and almost sympathetic. Pike is a revelation. I’ve never seen her stretched like this, and all with an American accent. All five major players deserve an Oscar nod, but my money is on Pike and Coon to be on the final ballot.
While I won’t say anything about the plot, other than that after a domestic quarrel Affleck comes home to an empty house with broken glass in a specific location, and then doesn’t call the police, I can say that the twists appear regularly, and while you may decide which surprise is coming next, you may find your prediction reversed.
I really liked (and admired) this movie until the final twist, which I hated. Then, leaving the theater and thinking it over, I revised my opinion of the final twist: I still don’t like it, but I don’t hate it anymore either. However, I still admire the movie, and am looking forward to the DVD release and watching it again.