Adapted from the best selling and critical acclaimed novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl is a thriller rooted in our times.
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne, an apparently perfect couple who have recently relocated from New York City to the small town of North Carthage, Missouri. Not through choice but necessity after Nick loses his job as a journalist and decides to invest in a bar with his sister back home.
When Amy goes missing on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary with all signs pointing to a struggle, Nick does everything in his power to avoid suspicion falling on him. Being polite and friendly to the people trying to find his wife, this of course creates the opposite effect and he soon finds himself thrust into a media circus as the prime suspect.
A rarity of faithful adaptations, Gone Girl is sure to please fans of the novel as well as newcomers. With author Gillian Flynn on board as screen writer, this is the fullest translation from page to screen I can ever remember seeing, the action playing out in the same beats as the book. Its a big compliment when I say that whilst watching it, I at no point felt I was missing out on anything, the original story being trimmed of any excess fat to make for a much more leaner filmic narrative.
It is still very long and runs at almost two and a half hours, but not a minute of screen time is wasted in furthering the story in some way, so it can be forgiven for its bloated-ness. Already aware of the stories outcome, perhaps it hindered my viewing experience to a degree and I am ever so slightly enviable of people going to see this with a fresh pair of eyes. However, throughout I was nevertheless intrigued and enthralled to see how things would play out on the big screen, especially in terms of the books big reveal half way through.
That same reveal is present here and does make the film all the more better, casting aside the opportunity for more mystery in favour for the character driven drama that made the book so original. What’s great to see is the dark satire from the novel runs throughout the film, playing like the blackest of black comedies as it progresses.
It’s easy to see why David Fincher, a director already familiar with bringing books to the big screen, would be attracted to this project. Much like Fight Club, Gone Girl has a bleak social commentary about the times we live in at its core, touching upon wider issues such as the recession and how worldwide problems have a way of infiltrating and influencing our private lives.
However, Its main conceit is playing on our perceptions of people and in turn how we portray ourselves to others. There’s great fun being had by Fincher and Flynn as they examine what it is to be the perfect couple, secretly harbouring a great deal of bile and disgust for each other. It’s these keen observations that make the film really work and the questions it raises that make it most enthraling.
Also good are the films two leads. Ben Affleck plays the salt of the earth, all American nice guy to a tee, his characters media bashing offering up remarkable parallels with his real life. Rosamund Pike is the scene stealer in this though and puts in her biggest and most memorable performance as of yet.
Far from as exciting and as mysterious as the trailers may have lead you to believe, Gone Girl is a film that’s primarily interested in its ideas and characters. It’s a fascinating watch both visually and thematically, that will get you to think as well as entertain you.
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