A husband (Ben Affleck) in a failing marriage leaves his home one morning and comes back to a house that shows signs of a struggle…and no wife (Rosamund Pike).  Of course, in cases such as this, the husband is always a suspect.  Affleck is given the benefit of the doubt — for the most part — until one thing after another comes to light that keeps pointing the finger at him.  Time is quickly running out for Affleck, who insists he had nothing to do with Pike’s disappearance; but his neighbors, his in-laws, the reporters, and the police are already lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks.

We see two sides of the story.  Affleck’s side, where he is the caring husband who would never harm Pike; and Pike’s side — through flashbacks and her diary — where she is a victim of an abusive husband who wants out of his marriage in any way.  It’s good fun trying to figure out who is telling the truth; but the guessing game ends too quickly when halfway through the movie it is revealed what happened to Pike.

David Fincher does a great job directing “Gone Girl,” a study of a relationship that goes horribly wrong despite its romantic start.   Affleck does a good job portraying an average guy who is content to be average.  Neil Patrick Harris — NPH! — is great at playing the creepy, ex-lover of Pike.  But Pike steals the show as a complicated, creepy, highly intelligent woman who will do whatever is necessary to get what she wants.

Taking top honors for my most memorable, movie moment of “Gone Girl” is the scene when Pike has sex with NPH.   Shocking and graphic in more ways than you can imagine.

An honorable mention for my memorable moments of “Gone Girl” is *****SPOILER ALERT–do not read if you haven’t seen this movie****the scene when Pike comes back to Affleck, her clothes bloody, her wrists showing signs of being bound, reporters surrounding the couple; and Affleck whispers to Pike, “You f*$#ing bitch.”

“Gone Girl” does have its shenanigans, such as the scene when someone makes an anonymous call to the police about suspicious activity in Affleck’s sister’s woodshed.  Now, the call was made in another county, and it was done with a landline, and the police never bothered to track who made the call, or wondered how someone miles away could see suspicious activity in the woodshed?  At least have the caller press some buttons to hide the phone number.   Lazy screenwriting.

Even with the shenanigans, “Gone Girl” is a great suspense/thriller/mystery that had me hooked soon after the movie started.  People may complain that the mystery is solved too early in the movie; but what they don’t get is that “Gone Girl” is much more than a who done it flick.  As I stated, it’s about how a relationship starts, how things go off track, and what Affleck and Pike are willing to do to either sever the marriage or save it.

— M