Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. After he calls the police they come to the conclusion that fowl play is at hand, and Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect. This is compounded by the strain the marriage has been under of late, with lies and deceit on both parts. Add to this a media frenzy that grows with scandal and the continuing mystery of what happened to his wife, and the stage is set for a thrilling, troubling mystery where the story matters more than the truth.
On the one hand the film is an exaggeration of the lengths people go to in order to keep up appearances, in particular the illusion of the perfect life and marriage. But it is also an example of a common theme in American Literature of the corrupting influence and fakery of the city in opposition to the wholesome honesty of the small town Midwest (think Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Welles’ Citizen Kane). We see numerous contrasts between the two, from the salt of the earth citizens of Missouri contrasted with the poseurs at a New York party, to Nick’s real bond with his twin sister in opposition to Amy’s competing with her “Amazing” fictional twin. Like its predecessors, Gone Girl deals with the creating of an ideal life narrative, reworked in an elaborate and effective “he said/she said” dynamic, where manipulation is simply a technique necessary in telling the best story.
In a world where image and story are all, Gone Girl is an arresting examination of the strain of keep up appearances.