I’ve not read the book, and scrupulously avoided spoilers, and enjoyed this, I think, much more for doing so, and so will try to avoid giving spoilers myself. This is a twisty, intelligent and darkly comic thriller that went into directions I never expected.
As the film begins, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) goes to the bar he runs with his sister, to bitch a little about the fifth wedding anniversary he is going to have to face with his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), with whom he is no longer so happily married. While there, he gets a phone call from a neighbour to advise that he should come home. He arrives to find the door ajar, and some minor damage that might indicate a struggle. Not, at this point, overly concerned he calls the police.
Finding out that Amy was the model for her mother’s range of popular “Amazing Amy” children’s books, and is therefore a kind of celebrity who has previously reported stalking incidents, the police take the disappearance seriously from the outset. It soon appears that the disappearance is more worrying than originally thought but we also see that neither Nick nor Amy (whose voice we hear from readings from her diary) are quite what they seem. As the film progresses, Nick’s public persona goes from victim to villain to stoic victim, back to villain and onwards.
There is enough sex and violence to justify the ’18’ rating (UK) but it is an adult film in more than just its certificate. Some of the plot twists are far-fetched and, at one point, I thought ‘that’s enough now’ though, when it twisted again, I was impressed with both the audacity and the élan with which it was done – and carried on doing, even after that. And it is scabrously funny about the role of the television media in shaping public reaction to tragedy. Well worth a watch.