From the Director of Se7en and Zodiac
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is stroking the hair of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), saying through a voiceover that he'd like to crack her skull and pick apart her brain to answer that eternal question married couples have: What are you thinking?July 5, 2012Nick takes out the garbage early in the morning, and looks around at the quiet neighbourhood. He then goes to a bar he co-owns with his sister Margo (Carrie Coon). He brings her a Mastermind board game that she throws in with a pile of others. He asks for a drink, and she pours one for each of them. It's the morning of Nick and Amy's 5th wedding anniversary, and he expects another scavenger hunt. Nick seems distressed, not wanting to be there at all.January 8, 2005Nick and Amy first meet at a party in New York. He writes for a men's magazine and she writes personality quizzes for another. She makes a comment on the cleft of his chin making him look untrustworthy. He puts two fingers over the cleft so he'll appear more trusting. They take a walk and pass through a bakery that is getting a sugar delivery. Sugar is floating around everywhere as Nick and Amy walk through it. Nick tells Amy he has to kiss her now. He wipes some sugar off her lips and kisses her. They are later seen in bed with her lying on her back in her underwear and him performing oral sex on her.Present Day.Nick gets a call from a neighbor, telling him that his cat is outside. He returns home and calls for Amy. No answer. He goes into the living room and sees a table flipped over and the glass top is shattered on the floor. Nick screams Amy's name, startling a neighbor.Nick calls the police. Arriving at his home are Detective Rhonda Boney and Officer Jim Gilpin (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit). They inspect the place. Rhonda sees a small splatter of blood in the kitchen above the range. In the living room, they see a wall with pictures of "Amazing Amy", a book series written by Amy's parents. Rhonda comments that she loves the books and is surprised to learn that Nick is married to Amazing Amy herself.February 24, 2007Nick and Amy go to a party held by her parents Rand and Marybeth (David Clennon and Lisa Banes). It is to celebrate the latest Amazing Amy book, where Amy gets married. As Nick and Amy discuss the exhibitions at the party, it becomes clear that the parents' fictional Amazing Amy character is a dramatically "improved" version of their real daughter that is sold it to the public. (For example, they gave Amazing Amy a dog, but refused one for their real daughter. They made Amazing Amy a prodigy cellist when real the Amy dropped out.) Rand asks Amy to go sit with some reporters so they can interview her. She does, and they ask her mundane questions such as why she's not married yet (to which she replies that Amazing Amy has always been one step ahead of her). Nick comes in pretending to be a reporter. He asks her more personal questions, leading up to a marriage proposal - opening his notebook to reveal an engagement ring. He mentions that she has a world class vagina.Present DayNick is brought into the police station for questioning about Amy's disappearance. Rhonda and Jim find it odd that he seems rather indifferent and passive when answering questions and the fact that he doesn't know if Amy has any close friends or her blood type. He goes to call Amy's parents. Her mother asks to speak to Rhonda. In the next room, Nick finds that his father Bill (Leonard Kelly-Young) is in there after the police found him wandering around town, having left his assisted living facility (he suffers from Alzheimer's). Nick drives him back to the facility.Nick stays at Margo's house while the police inspect his home. A pregnant neighbor, Noelle Hawthorne (Casey Wilson), who claims to be Amy's best friend, comes by and asks about Amy. In the upstairs bedroom, Officer Gilpin says that he found "it" in the drawer of "unmentionables." Detective Boney pulls out an envelope, labelled "Clue One."July 5, 2009Nick and Amy have been happily married for two years. On their anniversary, another of Amy's scavenger hunts takes them to the library to have sex in a quiet area. Amy gives Nick a gift. He opens the box to find a package of very high quality bed sheets. She refers to a private joke they had about how their sex was too good for ordinary sheets. He laughs and pulls out a gift for her - the same sheets.Present DayWhen questioned about this "clue", Nick says Amy always prepares a treasure hunt for their anniversary. The first clue leads him and Rhonda to his office, with another envelope on his desk labelled "Clue Two." Detective Boney finds a pair of red panties in the office. Nick is surprised by this discovery, as it doesn't seem directly related to the clue. The second clue mentions a brown house, but tells the detective that he doesn't understand it. Nick goes to his father's old home, which is painted blue. He arrives, but sets off the alarm. He enters the code twice to disarm the alarm, but it doesn't work. The phone rings, and it is the alarm monitoring company investigating the alarm. As he starts to explain that it's his father's house, the detectives arrive, so he figures they must be following him. He finds the third clue there but only has time to tuck it into his back pocket, hiding it from the police. The detectives question him as to why he's there. He says he comes by once a week to make sure the place doesn't burn down.Amy's parents fly in from New York as a press conference is held to spread awareness of Amy's disappearance. Nick asks others for help, but he appears emotionless. He is asked to pose next to a poster of Amy, and a photographer captures the brief moment when a smile appears on his face.Nick and Amy's parents meet with Rhonda to determine some possible suspects. Rand names an ex-boyfriend of Amy's, Desi Collings, who apparently tried to commit suicide after Amy broke up with him. They also mention a former classmate named Tommy O'Hara who was convicted of sexually assaulting Amy.People go to the volunteer center to help find Amy. One person there is Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), but he leaves without saying anything. Nick tries to come off as friendly to others, but Jim doesn't buy it. Even Marybeth thinks he is acting like a "homecoming king." Nick is approached in a hallway by a woman who extends her sympathy and offers to make him a chicken-Frito pie casserole. She stands next to him and takes a selfie of the two of them, telling him to say "chicken-Frito pie." He makes a fake smile as she takes the photo and he immediately realizes this was a mistake and asks her to delete the photo. She refuses, and he asks her not to share it with anyone. She replies, "I'll share it with anyone I please" as she walks away. The photo goes viral. Consequently, the media starts analyzing Nick. TV personalities like Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle) paint him as an unempathetic sociopath.2010Amy's diary explains how both she and Nick lose their jobs. Amy talks about the troubles they are having, then says, "But that's all background noise." She says that none of it matters as long as they have each other. Then Amy tells Nick that her parents are having financial problems and asked her for her trust fund money, which is nearly a million dollars. Nick is shocked that she would do that without talking to him first. Amy explains that the money is really their money anyway, and then says, "This is the part where you say, 'It's all background noise.'" He appears to calm down, and repeats the phrase. Later on, Nick has started losing interest in the marriage and has begun overspending on electronics like video games and a new laptop. Amy thinks he is trying to make her look like a cold, bitchy wife. To make matters worse, Nick and Margo's mother Maureen (Cyd Strittmatter) has been diagnosed with breast cancer, forcing Nick and Amy to move back to his hometown in Missouri. Amy feels a bit upset because Nick didn't even discuss the decision to move to Missouri with her, although she does support it. In general, Amy feels left out. She says he is just using her for sex. Nick is getting ready to go out with his old friends one evening when Amy tries to persuade him to stay with her, but he refuses. Then she offers to join him, but he also refuses, saying how she won't enjoy it. Then Any makes the suggestion that they have a child. He starts to get angry, asking why couldn't they have had this argument four hours prior, instead of when he is about to leave. The argument escalates as they go down the stairs, and at the bottom of the stairs Nick grabs Amy and throws her down, and she strikes the bannister post and falls to the floor. He immediately looks shameful.Present DayA few nights after Amy disappears, Nick is at Margo's house. It's late and Margo has gone to bed. Nick gets a text saying, "I'm outside." Nick opens the back door. A young woman, Andie Fitzgerald (Emily Ratajkowski), comes in and starts kissing Nick. He tells her to be quiet while Margo is sleeping. He makes sure that Andie hasn't said anything to anybody about her affair with Nick or that he has mentioned wanting to divorce Amy. He asks her if she left some red panties in his office, and she is doubtful, but not 100% sure. They continue kissing and have sex.Nick has Andie slip out the door early in the morning, thinking Margo is still asleep. However, Margo appears in the kitchen and angrily berates her brother for lying to her, knowing what would happen if the cops or media were to find out about this.At night, there is a vigil for Amy. Nick stands alongside her parents, and tries to seem more empathetic and anxious to find Amy, telling the crowd how he truly loves his wife. Andie is clearly visible up front in the crowd and mouths the word "asshole" in a way that only he can see. Noelle walks by and calls out to Nick, asking him if he knew that Amy was six weeks pregnant. The reporters chase Nick all the way to the police car as they escort him away.Margo presses Nick about the pregnancy bombshell. He says he did not know she was pregnant, but that he did want kids and Amy didn't. He shows her a letter from a fertility clinic that they were going to, stating that they were going to dispose of a semen sample they had left there, unless someone came to retrieve it.Rhonda and Jim meet Nick back in his home and explain that the results of a light test showed that someone wiped up a large pool of blood in the kitchen. Nick also doubts that Amy knew Noelle, until Rhonda shows him photographs of the two of them together, along with Noelle's kids. She even hands Nick a document of recent expensive transactions from his credit card, mentioning items including golf clubs and a Stratocaster guitar, though Nick says he never bought any of those items. Additionally, Rhonda presses Nick about the fact that he upped Amy's life insurance policy earlier that year to over a million dollars. He barks back, "because she told me to!" Rhonda gets a call confirming Amy's urine sample analysis indicate that she was indeed pregnant.Nick remembers the third clue in his pocket, and tries to decipher it. Rhonda and Jim continue their investigation, checking out the abandoned mall, now frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers. They find a local dealer and show him a picture of Amy. He tells Rhonda that she came by and tried to buy a gun from him. He had a clear memory of the event; it was Valentine's Day and she had been wearing a pink dress. They go back to Nick's father's home, wondering why Nick went there in the first place so soon after Amy's disappearance. In the furnace in the basement, they find Amy's diary hidden in the furnace, burnt slightly. Nick, meanwhile, figures out that the third clue refers to a wood shed outside Margo's home. He discovers a large pile of items from the credit card purchases stored there, as well as a gift-wrapped box in the middle of it all.Amy's Version: July 5, 2012We go back to "the morning of", and we learn the truth - Amy is alive and she staged everything to lead up to her disappearance. She is seen driving away from Missouri with her arm bandaged up with a blood spot evident on the inside of her elbow. Amy had used a variety of pens to make recent diary entries appear as if they were written over the past 5 years, and periodically threw each one out the car window. It documents a happy marriage deteriorating to the point where she buys a gun because she is afraid that Nick may kill her. She even faked her pregnancy by befriending pregnant Noelle and making her think that Nick was hurting her. Amy drained her toilet and offered Noelle lemonade until she had to use the bathroom. Amy then stole her urine and used it to submit it for the pregnancy test.On their fifth anniversary, Amy told Nick to take a walk and really think about their marriage, knowing full well he would go for a walk in his favorite isolated spot along the beach and thus have no alibi. Meanwhile she set up a crime scene to make Nick look guilty. Her plans included suicide so that her body would be found to completely frame Nick. To make sure she's not found out, she cuts her hair, dyes it, and makes herself look unkempt and disheveled. She begins eating large amounts of junk food to gain weight. She hides out at a small resort under the name Nancy, even hitting herself in the face with a hammer to sell the idea that she is hiding from an abusive boyfriend. She befriends a woman named Greta (Lola Kirke). Amy tells her how she came across Nick leaving the bar with Andie during a snowy night, wiping her lips before he kissed her the same way he kissed Amy when they first met (this part is true). With her plan working perfectly, she postpones her suicide for another month.Back to NickNick brings the gift box inside and opens it to find Punch and Judy dolls, with the Judy doll holding a baby and missing a mallet. Together, he and Margo deduce that Amy has framed Nick for her disappearance.Nick goes to New York to find Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), a lawyer specializing in tough, high-profile cases who has been following Nick's story in the media. He agrees to help Nick in his defense. He gives Nick the contact information of Tommy O'Hara (Amy's second boyfriend, who was charged with sexual assault) so that Nick can ask him questions.Nick meets Tommy (Scoot McNairy) in a bar. Tommy says he and Amy dated for a while, but he could see that she was using him. He gave her some space, hoping she'd break off the relationship. One day, she seduced him, and told him she wanted rough sex. She staged a scene where she had marked her wrists and left neckties tied to the bed to make it appear he had tied her up. She went to the police, and claimed he had raped her. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge to avoid prison time. Now he is a registered sex offender and has not been able to get a job. He warns Nick about how evil and manipulative she is. Nick later visits Desi after finding his address from a letter he wrote to Amy. After Nick asks Desi about his side of the story regarding his attempted suicide, Desi closes the door on him and walks back inside his house without confirming or denying the things she told Nick about him.At the resort, Amy plays mini-golf with Greta and her friend Jeff (Boyd Holbrook). At one point, she jumps up and drops her fanny pack full of money. Greta and Jeff notice. The next day, as Amy is cleaning the room meticulous to prepare to leave, they force their way into her room and start searching for the money. Amy threatens to call the police. Greta says that she doesn't know what she's up to, but has dyed hair and she doesn't think she's ever been hit. Greta says, "You won't call the police." They find the money under her dress, and take it. Now penniless, she calls the Missing Amy tip line, and reports suspicious activity at Margo's wood shed. She then places a call from a pay phone.Tanner goes to Missouri to help Nick and Margo clear up Nick's image. Nick tells Tanner what he thinks has been going on with Amy, dropping clues that only he would really know. For instance, the reason he knew that the "brown house" in the treasure hunt clue was his dad's house was because they used to pretend that his dad was a spy called Mr. Brown. Nick also admits to the affair, which Tanner says he ought to tell the cops about so that it gives them one less reason to think Nick had a motivation to kill Amy.Nick later books an interview on TV with Sharon Schieber (Sela Ward) to tell his side of the story. Tanner coaches him to make him seem more likeable by having Nick admit that he's been unfaithful and dishonest, which would earn him some possible points in the media.On the day of the interview, Tanner keeps trying to get Nick to come off less smug and more genuinely upset by pelting him with gummy bears in his dressing room when Nick appears too smug or untrustworthy.At the same time, Desi meets Amy at a casino. She never mentions getting her money stolen, but she continues to play up the abused wife angle. They leave for Desi's lake house.As Nick meets Sharon, a bombshell hits the news: Andie has confessed to her affair with Nick at a press conference, with Amy's parents. Desi and Amy see the news while Sharon gets wind of it at the same time. Marybeth tells reporters that her and Rand's love for Nick has ended then and there.Desi and Amy watch Nick's interview with Sharon, while Nick is watching with Margo. Nick convincingly comes off as remorseful for the affair, but he insists that he did not kill his wife. Sharon lets him speak directly into the camera to say something to Amy. He says he loves her and mentions the woodshed (figuratively, apparently as a secret message to Amy) before putting two fingers on his chin, knowing Amy would recognize that. Margo checks the Internet and sees that Nick is trending positive with the public.Things take an unfortunate turn when Rhonda and other officers show up at Margo's home with a search warrant due to the call about the woodshed. They find all the merchandise from the credit card bill. Both Nick and Margo are taken into custody. Rhonda reads to Nick the pages of Amy's diary, which ends with "This man may truly kill me." Jim brings in the missing Judy mallet from the puppets. It has been burned in their fireplace, but traces of Amy's blood are found on it. Rhonda now has a murder weapon, and arrests Nick. He protests, but Tanner shuts him up.At Desi's home, Amy learns that Desi has security cameras installed all over the property. She is virtually a prisoner in his home. While he's out at work, she stages what looks like a brutal rape. She soaks her nightgown in red wine, binds her hands and feet, then crawls to the camera, crying, making it look like she's just been raped.Nick and Margo are released on bond. The media continues to hound them on the way out, now that everyone is convinced Nick is a cold monster. Nick quietly whispers to himself, "Come home, Amy. I dare you."Amy waits for Desi to come home. She gets a wine bottle and puts it in herself to create injuries. When Desi gets home, Amy seduces him and agrees to run off with him to Greece once the trial is over. They go into the bedroom. She starts taking his clothes off, tearing his shirt open, and they start having sex. Amy demands it to be harder. Desi is caught off guard, once he gives over to the moment, lifting his head to the ceiling, Amy grabs a box cutter she concealed beneath the pillows and slashes his throat. She is drenched in his blood as he dies underneath her. She does look upset about what she's just done.Nearly a month after Amy's disappearance, Nick looks out his window and sees Amy drive up, still covered in blood. The reporters and neighbours are shocked and begin clamoring around Nick and Amy as she walks up to him. He whispers to her, "You fucking bitch", before she collapses in his arms.At the hospital, Amy is interviewed by a roomful of police and weaves a story about how Desi kidnapped and raped her before she made her heroic escape. Rhonda asks her questions about the items in Margo's woodshed, but Amy deflects the question and returns to her rape story, while also being heavily medicated on painkillers. The reporters follow her and Nick home, happy that she's alive and that Nick is now vindicated. However, Nick knows something is wrong, and asks her what really happened. Amy forces Nick to disrobe to prove he's not wearing a wire. She goes to the shower to wash off the copious amounts of Desi's blood still covering her. In the shower with Nick, she all but confesses that she framed Desi and murdered him in order to return to Nick as he had requested (and presumably also to make her return seem heroic). Nick sleeps in a separate room and locks the door behind him.Nick meets with Tanner, Margo, and Rhonda (who now trusts Nick) about this revelation, though without sufficient evidence and with everyone on Amy's side, they cannot prove that she murdered Desi.Nick and Amy make their first public appearance together at the volunteer center, posing as a happily reunited couple. They are even set to have an interview with Ellen Abbott in their home. As they are getting ready, Amy gives Nick a gift, which is a pregnancy test. It's positive. Nick first says it can't be his, and he'll demand a blood test. Then he realizes that she has retrieved his semen sample, and is using this as a ploy to keep him with her. The tension escalates and he grabs her and slams her head against the wall, calling her a cunt. She tells him she's the same cunt he fell in love with. And she's the only cunt that ever made him feel like a man. Reluctantly, Nick joins Amy hand-in-hand for the interview. During the interview, Amy prods Nick and he says they're going to be parents, when Ellen appears overjoyed and hugs Amy. Margo later finds out about the pregnancy and cries for her brother, and is distraught that he plans to stay with her for the sake of the child for the next 18 years.The film concludes with a similar shot as the opening, Nick stroking Amy's hair again, wondering to himself just what she's thinking.
Score: 81 %