'Gone Girl': What the Critics Are Saying

Directed by David Fincher, the NYFF opener stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry

Gone Girl, which opens the New York Film Festival with its world premiere on Friday night before hitting theaters on Oct. 3, stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry in a dramatic mystery of a wife's disappearance. The 20th Century Fox film, directed by David Fincher, was adapted for the big screen by Gillian Flynn, the novelist who penned the twisty, nasty and sensational best-seller.

Read what top critics are saying about Gone Girl:

The Hollywood Reporter's chief film critic Todd McCarthy writes that the adaptation is "sharply made, perfectly cast and unfailingly absorbing melodrama. But, like the director's adaptation of another publishing phenomenon, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, three years ago, it leaves you with a quietly lingering feeling of: 'Is that all there is?' ... His great talent is, as ever, plain to see; he gets the most out of every scene, situation and character. ... Gone Girl shows him working in a somewhat pulpier, more popular vein that, frankly, needs him more than he needs it." He also clarifies, "Flynn has done a fine job of boiling her cleverly structured story down to the essentials, doing the necessary trimming but retaining everything her fans will want to see. Despite published reports that major plot changes were being made, particularly in the third act, this simply isn't true; it's an extremely faithful adaptation of what is ultimately a withering critique of the dynamics of marriage."

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Additionally, "Affleck, who has never been more ideally cast, delivers a beautiful balancing act of a performance, fostering both sympathy and the suspicion that his true self lies somewhere between shallow jerk and heartless murderer," while Pike "is powerful and commanding. ... Physically and emotionally, Pike looks to have immersed herself in this profoundly calculating character, and the results are impressive." Also delivering notable performances are Perry, Lola Kirke, Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens.

The New York Times'  Manohla Dargis observes that "Fincher’s compositions, camera work and cutting are, as always, superbly controlled. Working again with cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth and the production designer Donald Graham Burt, the fashions an ever more haunted, haunting world that wavers so violently between ordinariness and aberration that, as in his other movies, the two soon blur. ... At its strongest, Gone Girl plays like a queasily, at times gleefully, funny horror movie about a modern marriage, one that has disintegrated partly because of spiraling downward mobility and lost privilege. Yet, as sometimes happens in Fincher’s work, dread descends like winter shadows, darkening the movie’s tone and visuals until it’s snuffed out all the light, air and nuance."

Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan notes that "all the fuss is justified. Superbly cast from the two at the top to the smallest speaking parts, impeccably directed by Fincher and crafted by his regular team to within an inch of its life, Gone Girl shows the remarkable things that can happen when filmmaker and material are this well matched." Affleck "gets Nick's combination of arrogance and likability exactly right," and Pike "is completely his equal in a performance that defies expectations at every turn."

New York Daily News' Joe Neumaier calls it "a break-all-the-windows plot-twister that keeps every jolt and (most of) the cultural jabs from Flynn’s blockbuster novel." Despite its star-studded cast, "the biggest star here may be Fincher’s surgically precise insight and silky style of suspense, which makes this film a modern companion to such classics as Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Clouzot’s Diabolique. Fincher is a fearless filmmaker who understands his audience’s intelligence (not to mention their cinematic blood lust)."

The Guardian's Xan Brooks says that Fincher's film "shoves us so forcefully past the plot’s mounting implausibilities that we barely have the time to register one crime before we’re on to the next. That’s the way to do it." By the end, it is "all but tripping over itself in its rush to the climax. Thank heavens for Fincher, who keeps the tale so coiled and intense that we are prepared to stick with it, even as it pitches towards outright hysteria. He whips up a bracing, scalding sketch of a marriage in meltdown."

Gone Girl hits theaters on Oct. 3.

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee