Like his 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Director David Fincher’s Gone Girl is a very faithful interpretation of the source material. Of course, it helps a bit when the novel’s author is also the screenwriter. What Fincher and Author Gillian Flynn have created for audiences is not just a great movie, but the first must-see film of the fall.
I’m going to try and avoid as many spoilers as possible in this review, but please know that it’s difficult to really discuss this film without talking about all the plot’s twists. The basic story is that on their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne’s (Ben Affleck) wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing. As time goes on and secrets are revealed, Nick becomes the prime suspect. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) wants to investigate every angle, while her partner, Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit), thinks Nick is guilty from the jump. Nick’s sister Margo (Carrie Coon), or “Go” as she’s called, stands by her brother, but even her faith is shaken by the evidence that mounts against him. He hires hotshot defense attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), a lawyer known for defending a slew of husbands accused of killing their wives. As everything comes to light, Nick keeps asking what happened to his wife.
That’s pretty much all I can divulge of the plot without ruing the great twists in the story. The one thing I will say for readers of the book is that I felt the novel did a much better job of keeping things ambiguous in the first third of the story. I think this is due to the fact that seeing Affleck’s expressions and reactions to things cuts down on the suspense a bit, but admittedly, that impression could have come from the fact that I knew what was coming having read the novel. In this case though, I think the book’s forced perspective added more to the story as a whole. For those worried about the novel’s ending being changed—it hasn’t. Fincher and Flynn tweaked it a bit, but it didn’t feel overly different to me. This story is the perfect vehicle for Fincher. It’s a dark, dark story with several humorous moments—typical Fincher.
The cast is really fantastic. Affleck is great as Nick and anyone worried about his acting chops for the upcoming Batman v. Superman needn’t be. Pike is also great in her scenes as Amy. Thankfully, she doesn’t have an annoying voice as she serves as narrator for the scenes based on Amy’s journal entries. Nice supporting work is turned in by Coon, Dickens, Perry, and Neil Patrick Harris as Desi, an old friend of Amy’s. Current “it girl” Emily Ratajkowski makes her feature film debut here as Andie and holds her own, but it felt like her part was trimmed down from what it is in the novel. Sela Ward makes a great cameo as Sharon Schieber, a Katie Couric type, while Missi Pyle is devilishly good as she channels Nancy Grace in her role as Ellen Abbott. Casey Wilson also shows off some dramatic chops as Amy’s, alleged, best friend, Noelle.
Overall, Gone Girl is the first must-see film of the fall. Fincher is at the peak of his powers and delivers another fantastic adaptation. The story is creepy and great, though the ending may rub some viewers the wrong way—it’s definitely not for everyone. Check it out.