Review - Gone Girl

Gone Girl (2014), R, 145 minutes - My wife and I have been extremely busy with all of the things that come with buying and selling a house.  And while we're very excited about it, the process has put a bit of a damper on our usual weekend routine (including my theater hopping habit).  Things are moving along nicely and by the end of the month we should be getting settled in our new home.  A midst all the house related craziness, I was able to sneak some time yesterday to see Gone Girl, the new David Fincher directed thriller based on Gillian Flynn's best selling novel from a couple of years ago.

I had heard great things about the book and started reading it about a month ago.  I'm not the world's fastest reader and I wanted to be sure to give myself enough time to finish it before the movie came out.  I shouldn't have worried.  The novel was every bit as good as I had been told and I blew through it in a week (slowed only by life's responsibilities such as work).  I found myself very excited for the adaptation, and equally anxious and confident that it would live up to the high expectations the book set.  Again, I shouldn't have worried.

Flynn's novel has some great twists which and are adapted extremely well in this film so I will tread even more lightly than usual in regards to providing a synopsis.  The morning of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary, Nick gets up and goes about his business.  He takes out the trash, goes for a walk, and meets up with his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) at the bar that they run.  There he receives a worried phone call from the neighbor from across the street: Nick's front door has been left wide open and the cat is roaming around the yard.  Nick rushes home to find the living room turned upside down and his wife missing.  The authorities show up, led by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) and things quickly progress from a possible missing persons case to a potential homicide.  After Nick cooperates with the investigation and treasure hunt clues have been found (Amy's usual anniversary tradition), he becomes a possible suspect.  As the case progresses, it looks more and more likely that Nick had something to do with Amy's disappearance.

Gone Girl's cast is excellent.  Affleck and Pike lead an entire group that (in my mind) were perfectly cast, including David Clennon and Lisa Banes (Amy's parents), Missi Pyle (Ellen Abbott), Sela Ward (Sharon Schieber), Neil Patrick Harris (Desi Collings) and Tyler Perry (Tanner Bolt) as well as the others mentioned above.  When announced, NPH and Perry seemed like potentially odd choices for such a thriller, but they really nailed the roles of Collings and Bolt.  Scoot McNairy even slips in for a quick supporting role (Tommy O'Hara).

I think that a major contributor to Gone Girl's success on the screen is due to the hands-on involvement of author Gillian Flynn.  She didn't just consult on the film, she actually wrote the screenplay, tweaking her own story here and there to better suit another medium.  As a result, the adaptation is extremely faithful to the source material.  Only minor changes have been made, mostly just omissions of certain aspects that helped shape the tone of the novel that weren't as necessary on the screen.  On top of that, you have the more than capable hands of David Fincher steering the ship and another great, eerie and suspenseful score provided by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who are becoming regular Fincher collaborators.

Gone Girl is an excellent thriller.  Even if you've read the book and know what is coming, you will be shocked and uncomfortable in your seat when you see it play out in front of you.  I felt as though the twists carried the same impact as they did in the book, but I'd be curious to hear from anyone who hasn't read the book to see what they thought?  The film clocks in at almost two and a half hours, but you won't even realize it thanks to Fincher's expert pacing.  I've been a Fincher fan for quite a while but, all bias aside, Gone Girl is a definite must see if you enjoy a film that keeps you on the edge of your seat.












*****SPOILERS*****

- I can't allow myself to write a review for this film without gushing over the portrayals of Nick and Amy by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.  I didn't feel like I could do so properly without spoiling certain aspects of the story so I'll do it here in the spoiler section as opposed to the review itself.  Affleck naturally embodies the nice guy, inadvertently-smug-at-times qualities that are equal parts endearing and infuriating to the public.  Affleck's life and the things he has dealt with in the media throughout his career absolutely made him the perfect fit for this role.  And Rosamund Pike.  Wow.  The loving, supporting wife who is at the same time cold, calculating, jaded, and eerily unhinged.  She nailed it.  The transformations she goes through both mentally and physically give life to Amy in a way that makes her even more frightening than she was in the book.  Even more amazing, just as in the book, you both pull for and absolutely detest both characters at different points of the film.

- There were minor changes in the story from page to screen, most were tweaks to help the pacing.  Nick's dad has a smaller role in the film and Desi's mother is cut from the film entirely (not that she was very important in the book).  They didn't dwell too much on Amy's exes, but they gave us enough with Tommy O'Hara and Desi's reaction to Nick's visit to give us a good idea of what was going on.  The roles of Amy's parents and Nick's lover Andie (Emily Ratajkowski) are also dialed back, but still provide the necessary support in the film's tonal shift.  On the flip side, we actually see Amy's brutal killing of Desi, which is only alluded to in the book.  This change is the most dramatic of the film and really really drives home how much of a sociopath Amy is.  

- It is well known that Ben Affleck is a Boston guy and a life-long Red Sox fan.  The original script called for Nick to wear a New York Yankees cap, but Affleck protested.  He finally compromised and wore a New York Mets cap for a scene.

- This is the third film that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have scored for David Fincher, the other two being The Social Network (2010) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011).

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