The most horrifying thing about Gone Girl isn’t the crimes or misdeeds of any individual, but a cumulative, societal effort to suppress the truth. David Fincher applies his love of the procedural to Gillian Flynn’s script, depicting a missing persons case, the resulting media circus, and its exponential growth of lies, half-truths, and speculation. Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home and finds his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing, signs of a struggle. The local PD arrive, sticky-noting evidence, a narrative forming in their mind. This, in Gone Girl, is how the horror starts. Clues suggest, neat but not too neat, Nick may have offed Amy. Within a week, according to the film’s time stamps, a Nancy Grace lookalike is diagnosing Nick with sociopathy and inferring an incestuous relationship with his sister, among other antics.
Almost everyone in the film is a liar. Amy’s parents appear with Nick for a press conference, but their concern masks crass exploitation–promoting their pseudo-biographical book series within the tears. Nick’s lawyer teaches him how to be sympathetic. Amy’s ex creeps around the edges of the plot, motives shrouded in Nice Guy-isms. Narration from Amy suggests anger at her circumstances, either her lifetime of being compared to a fictional counterpart or conforming to the Hot Cool Girl men fantasize about. Nick wants to be everyone’s best friend, smiling next to Amy’s picture during the conference. He’s pegged as a phoney. Though the couple manipulate everyone around them, they resent acting the parts everyone expects of them, as man and woman, husband and wife. Ironically, they key in to those roles, using the news as entertainment cycle to sell themselves. When one narrative collapses, they simply adjust, even if they have to get bloody. In the land of liars and opportunists, it’s the only way to survive.