Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris
I’m glad I hadn’t read the book before watching Gone Girl, as it certainly would have ruined the suspense and twists. As every review of Gone Girl that I’ve read has said – it is difficult to review it in depth without giving away spoilers, and any spoiler given away would completely ruin the film. So apologies for my vagueness in parts, but you’ll thank me for it if you haven’t seen Gone Girl yet.
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star as Nick and Amy Dunne, a seemingly regular couple living in Missouri. When Amy goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, things soon go crazy. The media paint a picture of Nick as a psycho killer, and through flashbacks we learn that the marriage was not a bed of roses.
Having the author of the book write the screenplay doesn’t always guarantee a good translation from page to screen, but in this case having Gillian Flynn involved was certainly a wise move. Her passion for the story combined with Fincher’s aptitude for creating suspenseful and exciting thrillers was a match made in heaven. As I say, I haven’t read the book but the one thing that usually suffers in a book to screen adaptation is the characterisation as a lot usually has to be cut out to accommodate plot. Flynn has ensured that the complex characters of Nick and Amy were portrayed well and chose key scenes from the plot to outline what was going on. Fincher, of course, is used to this sort of thing what with the classic chilling thrillers Se7en and Zodiac and seemed more than happy to accommodate Flynn’s full characters and not trim them down at the expense of stunts or overly dramatic scenes.
Saying this, whilst the plot was mostly well-paced, there were a couple of sections where I felt it jumped too quickly. For example, we saw a good number of flashbacks depicting how in love Nick and Amy were, saying no money or family problems could come between them. Then shortly thereafter, money problems had significantly come between them and each character had become a much worse person than they were before. It just seemed like quite a jump and was noticeable when the build-up and depiction of the ‘happy times’ had taken its time so much. There was also a stark contrast to the Amy at the start and Amy by the end and I felt the change in her had also happened quite quickly and dramatically for a seemingly normal woman.
I thought the casting, especially Nick and Amy, was perfect. Affleck seems to cause a stir whenever he is cast in anything these days, and I’ve heard a few fans of the book moaning that he’s in Gone Girl. However I don’t see why people don’t like him and he was great in this. He portrayed Nick as someone initially likeable and relatable but then the cracks started to show, but subtlety and not so much so that it departed from the character he had built up in the first place. Nick the character had to put on an act in certain scenes and it actually felt like it was Nick acting which I thought shows how well Affleck had created a rounded character. Pike seemed like she was made for the role of Amy and all of the different sides of her gelled together so well to create the full picture of ‘Amazing Amy’. Whilst I said that the big change in Amy was too dramatic and fast, this wasn’t Pike’s fault as she portrayed what was written perfectly. To say any more would give away spoilers!
The other cast members were great too – Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister had excellent chemistry with Affleck, and Neil Patrick Harris certainly made considerable ground in distancing himself from his character Barney in How I Met Your Mother. He was so sinister yet you still almost felt sorry for him!
The media involvement in the case was almost a sub-plot in itself. It was a scary yet accurate portrayal of how the press sticking their nose in to criminal cases can ruin people’s lives. Missi Pyle’s dumb and desperate news reporter Ellen was infuriating but realistic. It does make you stop and think and wonder how many people have had their lives torn apart by the media through no fault of their own. People were trying to get selfies with Nick and take photos outside of his Bar and they looked pathetic but that’s what people do! Therefore I thought this aspect of the story added something quite different and interesting.
Going back to the narrative, whilst I’ve discussed the pace and its couple of issues, I nevertheless found it extremely exciting. I was shocked and surprised by a number of twists and didn’t see them coming, and throughout I was on the edge of my seat not knowing what was next. It felt very original and not reminiscent of any thriller I’ve seen recently and was also intelligent and gave the audience plenty to think about without being arrogant and vague. The technique of splitting the story between present day and flashbacks added to the suspense as I felt torn between wanting to see the flashback but wanting to see what happened next with the case. I was concerned before watching it that you would never know who was responsible for Amy’s disappearance so I’m glad there were no questions left by the end. I have seen other people say the ending wasn’t very good but I thought, whilst it wasn’t an amazing classic Fincher ending (head in a box anyone?) it did the job and tied up the story.
So overall, Gone Girl was extremely exciting and was an intelligent thriller with interesting characters that you felt invested in, excellently portrayed by Affleck and Pike.