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Gone Missing 

Affleck pulls David Fincher's film down

click to enlarge WHO DID IT?  When Ben Affleck's wife, played by Rosamund Pike, goes missing he emerges as the prime suspect in her disappearance.
  • WHO DID IT? When Ben Affleck's wife, played by Rosamund Pike, goes missing he emerges as the prime suspect in her disappearance.

David Fincher's bitter, would-be decadent mystery Gone Girl is taken from a too-schematic script by author Gillian Flynn. It contains a bounty of gnarly warring between the sexes—Fincher makes sex a cold, mean thing people do to each other. But it's more interesting when it touches on something more sensitive than sex: money. Set in the Midwest, the film peers over the cliff-steep divide between indebted haves and the wraith-like homeless have-nots. The poor folk are photographed as if they were zombs. Gone Girl's sourest turn may be the way a formerly trust-funded wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) collides with a working class lady hanging out at an Ozarks cabin resort.

Amy, a super-achiever from New York, has been reduced to backwater idleness in a Missouri mini-mansion. She's supposed to be a genius, but mostly what she does is write verses for little birthday scavenger hunts. She vanishes, and her husband Nick—the ever-bored Ben Affleck—may have killed her. Police detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens, the movie's highlight) thinks so. So does the deceased's wealthy, creepy ex-boyfriend (Neil Patrick Harris, who detects the odor of cheese in this script and goes full-on ratty). So, also, do a pack of vengeful afternoon TV hosts: Missi Pyle is amusing as the loudest of them all, a countrified Valkyrie.

As they say of a football player after a losing game, Pike gave 100 percent, in bloodbath and cold-blooded social scenes alike. There are moments where the horror goes appropriately outsized, as when Amy is stuck, penniless, at a truck stop. The diesel behemoths seem to be roaring back-up vocals to Trent Reznor's buzz, howl, ticky and scratchy soundtrack. But as the least Missouri-like Missourian ever, Affleck's deadfaced cool is pure concrete. His limits have never been more obvious. Fincher can't find a way to wield this A-list, movie-star shaped object.

'Gone Girl' is playing in wide release.

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