You might never look at your spouse the same way again after being mentally screwed by David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
What’s It About?
Gone Girl is another movie adaptation of a best-selling novel, but the difference here is that it’s actually pretty faithful to the source material, probably because the book’s author, Gillian Flynn, wrote the screenplay and David Fincher is, well, David Fincher.
Nick Dunne heads into town on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, but when he returns home he finds his living room in shambles, and his wife, Amy, is nowhere to be found. Like your typical concerned husband, he informs the police and helps his in-laws organize a neighborhood-wide search party and candlelight vigil, but as the audience learns more about Nick and the evidence, the more you ask yourself, Did Nick Dunne murder his wife?
Unfortunately, anything else I say plot-wise could be considered a spoiler, but just know that, if you haven’t read the book, you’re in for one giant mind-bender. And if you have, this will be one adaptation that doesn’t let you down in every way possible, unlike some… (*Cough* The Golden Compass *Cough* Daredevil *Cough* The DaVinci Code *Cough* … which ones am I missing?)
Who’s In It?
Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, and because it’s Affleck, you just want to like him, which makes his casting as a man accused of brutally murdering his wife so great. It makes me think of how so many comic book nuts were against this guy getting the role of Batman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but he proves once again with Gone Girl that he’s a terrific actor, and that Daredevil and Gigli are just some of those mistakes one makes in his younger years.
However, Rosamund Pike (of The World’s End, Jack Reacher, and Wrath of the Titans) gives the standout performance. I can’t fully discuss the extent of her role without getting into spoiler territory. So for the next paragraph or so, be warned of them. Pike shows audiences something that she’s never revealed before – her ability to become every man’s worst nightmare and can seamlessly transition into various characters (or, rather, caricatures). Don’t be surprised if she haunts your dreams for at least a week.
Another shocker? Something I never thought I’d be admitting in my life: Tyler Perry was pretty great in this movie. In fact, everyone from Perry as Nick’s attorney Tanner Bolt to Neil Patrick Harris as someone from Amy’s past to Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister Go, gave strong performances that we’ve never seen before from these guys.
How Is It?
To be perfectly honest, I think I may have inadvertently screwed myself before watching Gone Girl by finishing Flynn’s book the morning I saw Gone Girl. With the material so fresh in my mind, I was actively looking to poke holes and draw comparisons. That said, it’s not only a faithful adaptation, but also a film that can stand on its own with stellar performances from the entire cast. Fincher is at his best here, not only with inflicting an underlying dread throughout the entire film, through the music, silence, and claustrophobic shots, but inserting bits of humor when appropriate. He’s one of the few people who can actually make people laugh right after a particularly gruesome in a lake house, which I won’t spoil here. You’ve gotta laugh to keep from crying, right?
My only qualm, however, is over common issues that occur when adapting such a lengthy story. The book starts out with a graphic image, as Nick Dunne says, “I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts.” Words worthy of a Hallmark card, but that process happens in the book, as we’re given ample time to get situated with the characters, grow to love them, and find their darker natures hiding beneath the surface. The film, too, begins with this image and attempts to fulfill its promise, though pacing issues and perspective shifts that are not in the novel make this less effective.
But Gone Girl is still a pretty damn good movie, and these grievances are easily forgiven.