Tipped as a favourite for the Oscars and other major awards, director David Fincher's film Gone Girl begins with Nick Dunne coming home to find his wife Amy mysteriously missing.
But what follows is less a whodunit and more a subtle exploration of the slow decay of a marriage - from both the man's and woman's point of view - and the things that long-term couples often hide from each other, the cast tell Life! and other press in New York.
Stars Ben Affleck, 42, and Rosamund Pike, 35, say they thus went from pretending to be madly in love to barely speaking to each other on the set of the film, which is adapted from Gillian Flynn's widely praised novel and opens in Singapore tomorrow.
"We really dissect and put a marriage under a microscope, don't we?" says Pike, who is pregnant with her second child with partner Robie Uniacke.
"It seems to me that it's about the wonderful things that can come with intimacy and the treachery that can come with intimacy - when someone knows you so well that he can just screw every little sort of nut.
"When we were on set, we would go from the early romantic scenes, when we were having a laugh and chatting, to barely speaking when we got into the more toxic stages of the movie."
Affleck, who has been married to actress Jennifer Garner since 2005 and has three children with her, aged two to eight, says: "What was really interesting was that the book asked hard questions about marriage and relationships.
It didn't sort of want to gloss over the things that we don't like to look at in others and ourselves, and sometimes you find out ugly things when you ask hard questions - and that's why they were hard.
"We wanted to sort of give truth to this really dark look at marriage and David's subversive take on that," he says, referring to the acclaimed director of films such as The Social Network (2010), Fight Club (1999) and Se7en (1995).
Gone Girl earned an estimated US$38 million (S$48.6 million) to top the North American box office in its opening weekend.
Writing the screenplay herself based on her own 2012 best-selling thriller, Flynn wanted to make a point about how the media react to personal tragedies such as Nick's.
And so the movie has the sensationalist media stalking him and feverishly speculating about his role in Amy's disappearance.
The 43-year-old former television critic says: "It's a movie about storytelling and the stories we tell ourselves, that we tell other people, and the media is a kind of Greek chorus that's been blown up large, and I thought to really magnify it.
"It's the idea that someone else's tragedy is something that we are consuming - that we are consumers of tragedy when we tune in to these shows, and what it means to package and produce someone else's tragedy and how immediately somebody becomes the villain and somebody becomes the hero and how they are sort of cast against our will."
The storytelling motif is also explored through the stories that Amy and Nick tell each other to sustain their relationship, and with Amy, Flynn wanted to show how a woman can use this to manipulate a situation even as she feels trapped by it.