‘Gone Girl’ Movie Review – Cold-Blooded Precision
Gone Girl is based on an international best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn. On paper, there are a lot of things to be excited about; however, there are just as many red flags. For one, the source material can get downright brutal at times, inevitably making any “by the book” adaptation rated R. It’s also full of twists and turns which, while potentially serving as a strength, could detract viewers. Lastly, the story (and I’ll really try not to spoil anything I promise) is chalk-full of not just unlikable characters but downright despicable ones. Even taking these into account, the movie adaptation is probably the perfect combination between “by the book” and standalone. David Fincher (and Flynn, who did the screenplay) capture the “core” of the novel (mainly the psychology of a dying relationship) without sacrificing too much. I believe years from now it’ll stand out as one of the fiercest relationship thrillers of all time.
Again, I feel like I need to give some sort of spoiler warning because, while I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, I can’t think of another story that is as inherently spoiler-y. In fact, when I talk about the book to people who haven’t read it, I often have to tell them it’s about a woman that goes missing and a man trying to keep his innocence. That alone isn’t a good enough description for the ride they’re about to embark on.
In the movie version, David Fincher aids this journey. While I loved (loved, loved) the novel, Fincher was probably a bigger draw for me personally. His movies have their own “stamp” which is again seen in Gone Girl. I’ll admit the first act is bit less eerie than I anticipated (it really does hurt knowing all the twists and turns) but the movie is brimming with scenes that shout Fincher’s name (one scene in particular – you that have seen it, know it).
It’s also worth mentioning that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who have become mainstays for Fincher movies) add to this Fincher “stamp” with another fantastic score – albeit a little toned-down one.
I suppose I need to actually get to the story accolades and what works so well with the film’s “core.” You can talk all you want about style and score, but the substance is really where the movie works or not.
Gone Girl, as I mentioned earlier, is plagued by insufferable characters, namely Nick Dunne (played by Ben Affleck). You’d think this would make it a bit less relatable because, let’s face it, who wants to relate with a scumbag? However, the characters aren’t really the core of the film; instead, romance (or perhaps, lack thereof) becomes the focal point of the story. Using this lens, I think it’s a lot easier to access the story.
Once that is in place, the movie becomes about conveying the psychology involved in the story. Fincher has done it before in his films (whether thrillers or not), so again, he seems like the perfect director for the job. The end result is nothing less than fantastic, too, because there really seemed like no boundaries, no off-limits.
Before I go, I do want to throw in a couple assurances to the book fans. I can vouch for the film despite a little bit different ending (although it’s not worth the hubbub created when Fincher said he’d be altering the third act). I actually prefer the little tweaks to the third act in the film as opposed to the novel. My biggest fear involved how they’d handle the structure, and that qualm was alleviated within the first ten minutes.
Book fan or not, Gone Girl is a tour de force. Psychological thrillers flood the market but none are quite as precisely cold-blooded as David Fincher’s latest. The movie is aided by a fantastic novel, but it’s ultimately executed by everyone involved. This includes Fincher, Flynn, Ross, Reznor, Affleck, and Rosamund Pike (how have I not mentioned her yet!?). This gripping (and devilishly funny) adaptation is one you won’t forget, and it dares you to stare into the depths of the hell that comes from destructive relationships and human nature.
Gone Girl is out in wide release now. Sound off below with your thoughts.
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