Based on Gillian Flynn‘s 2012 New York Times Best Seller, with the adaptation directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is premised around the seemingly happy married couple Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike). Introduced to the readers as your average husband and wife, Nick and Amy are a couple that you quickly warm to. But when Amy mysteriously disappears, the truth of their marriage slowly unravels. Realising that everything wasn’t as perfect as it seemed, the spotlight of Amy’s disappearance soon turns on to Nick, as he becomes the focus of an intense media circus. But is Nick a man capable of killing his wife? Was their marriage really that bad? Or is the truth far from the whole story?
The following post is a review of the film only. You can read my review of the book on its own here or my comparison of the film to the book here.
The adaptation of Gone Girl was one of my most anticipated films of 2014 after having read the book a couple of months before its release. The novel is an intense mystery thriller hard to put down; every twist poses a new question, and with a somewhat psychotic conclusion the book is one that has your brain ticking at full pace until you reach the very end. It was this intense and never-ending suspense, as well as the idea of never knowing the whole story, that made the Gone Girl novel such a gripping read. Set to be adapted by the great David Fincher, as well, the Gone Girl film was always going to make an impact.
Adaptations of novels that you have such strong feelings for always come with doubts. Fincher had promised that he was going to highlight the dark comedy in Flynn’s novel, but would the story come across on the big screen as well as it does when read? It’s a difficult story to handle, but Fincher couldn’t have worked with it any better. And what a tremendous job he has done.
The dark humour is what makes Gone Girl‘s story stand out. Depending on how you want to read the novel and take the ending, this dark comedy twist had a huge influence on how I read the story. I found myself laughing far too often, and then I very quickly felt awkward afterwards as I had to ask myself if it was genuinely funny or just plain psychotic. This was an aspect that Fincher’s style of film-making complemented really well. The overall theme is very dark but that’s what we usually love about his work, so to have that alongside a story of love and humanity, there was a lot that needed a professional touch.
And that’s because Gone Girl is not only is it a fantastic thriller, it’s also an excellent exploration of relationships. There’s always a side to a couple that you don’t see, but with Gone Girl you get to see how easily happiness can be blurred. Interchanging every other chapter between the present as Nick details his efforts searching for his missing wife with Amy’s past accounts through her diary entries, we also get to see the difference between how men and women think and analyse certain situations. One minute everything appears to be just as it seems with Nick as the bad guy, but the next minute you see everything through a completely different light. This struggle continues through the whole novel, constantly changing your opinions of these characters and therefore putting the blame on a number of people as you try to figure out the truth.
With Flynn penning the script for the adaptation herself, this is explored equally as well in the adaptation, and you never know who to love or hate or who to trust, and with the completely unexpected ending, you can’t help but think that it’s the only way it can end. It’s completely messed up, but that’s what’s so great about this story.
But what also makes the adaptation work so well is the casting. Ben Affleck takes the lead as Nick with the beautiful Rosamund Pike supporting as his wife, Amy. If you’ve read the novel then I’m sure you will agree that they were both perfectly cast in their roles, and I genuinely couldn’t think of anyone better to play the married couple. They’re both excellent actors, and it’s great to see them both take on such huge roles under the helm of one of the best directors around. Affleck has the right amount of arrogance in him to make audiences find his character both lovable and hateable, which is exactly what people think about Nick in the story and when reading it, and Rosamund certainly looks the part as the perfectly amazing Amy, who could have a secret, darker side to her highly maintained image.
Another brilliant bit of casting is for the role of Desi Collings, an ex-boyfriend from Amy’s past who is played by Neil Patrick Harris. When reading the novel I pictured this very face. Harris has his natural quirky but handsome and rich persona already perfected, but it was even more interesting to see the fractured edge to Desi’s character which Harris turns on perfectly.
Whilst there are a lot of changes to the film from the book, this film adaptation is exactly what you would hope for. Fan of the book or not, Gone Girl has an ending that you will want to stick around for, and they are both five-star pieces of work in my eyes.