If you are a fan of both Gone Girl, the New York Times best selling novel, and also a fan of David Fincher…you probably squealed like a pre-pubescent child when you heard the news that Fincher was taking this story on for his next project because this story radiates Fincher-ness. It’s dark, it’s extremely complex, it’s thrilling from start to finish, what is not to like? The movie officially hits theaters today and I do not believe fans of either the novel or the director are going to be disappointed. Fincher delivers on every aspect of this story, but what really surprised me was despite the amazing, dark and broody look that has become a trademark of Fincher films ranging from Se7en and Fight Club to The Social Network and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher’s style may have taken a backseat to the real star of the film; Gillian Flynn’s story and screenplay.
Summarizing the premise of this movie is a touchy thing because it is truly one of those stories where you must not know too much. Knowing just one small fact can be like pulling a random block out from a Jenga tower and having it crumble. The whole story is built on surprising you and keeping you on the edge of your seat the whole time. So, I will be brief. Gone Girl tells the story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a writer who moved from the city with his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), to a small town in Missouri in order to take care of his dying mother. Nick comes home one day, which happens to be their fifth wedding anniversary, and instead of finding his wife he discovers what seems to be a crime scene. The living room looks like their has been a struggle and an iron still plugged in is sitting on it’s ironing board . What starts off looking like a kidnapping soon turns into a wild witch hunt against Nick, who the police and town believe to be the criminal.
As I mentioned, the story is the real star here. It is wonderfully crafted so that every single scene we watch is progressing the plot in some way and gradually creating tension. This tension slowly and beautifully builds throughout the movie, creating both a sense of dread and utter fascination. What’s going to happen next? Who is the bad guy? WTF IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW?! There are twists and turns that will surprise you, or maybe not surprise you. You are never really sure of whose side you are on. It’s so complex that the two and a half hours of sitting in the theater truly flies by. Not many authors adapt their own story for the screen, but Gillian Flynn herself did write the screenplay for the film…and it shows. The movie is incredibly faithful to not just the feel of the story, but also the character’s complexity. The book itself you can’t put down, and the way this transfers to the movie is that you simply cannot take your eyes off of the screen.
Another incredible strength of Gone Girl is it’s outstanding casting. It’s almost as if Ben Affleck was born to play the role of this both likable and unlikable guy who sometimes feels sincere and also sometimes feels completely insincere. It’s hard to put Nick Dunne in a box, and I imagine even harder to portray him in a way that audiences can get. But Affleck does. Rosamund Pike does an equally eery good job in her portrayal of the Amazing Amy. It is truly fascinating to see how her performance evolves from the very beginning of the film to the end. Amy, as equally if not more complex than Nick, I can not talk too much about. But damn, Pike nails it.
The marriage between this story and widely renowned director David Fincher seems destined. I can’t think of another director who could take the tone of this story and run with it as confidently as Fincher himself. Where other directors might have chosen to focus more on the thrill of the crime mystery that this story technically is, few would have embraced it’s truly twisted nature. This story is really twisted. Like, sick twisted. And Fincher not just fully embraces it, but also gets the audience to embrace it. There are parts in the movie that are funny in a really dark way. People in my theater were actually laughing at these “funny parts” that in reality are pretty messed up things to laugh at. Fincher fully knows what the tone of this story is, and he welcomes it.
As for the ending…Of course I won’t give anything away, but I know that several critics have attacked it as anti-climatic or not truly serving the story that led up to it. The ending, in my opinion, is utterly amazing and I believe if Flynn took any other avenue for it that it would be an injustice to just how intricate the characters of Nick and Amy are. To me, it’s the scariest ending possible for this film. With that said, go see Gone Girl. This is one of the best movies of the year so far and although it’s incredibly early to be thinking about Oscars season, as of right now I would not be surprised if Fincher, Affleck, Pike, Flynn’s screenplay, and Jeff Cronenworth’s beautiful cinematography all got nods this year.