Gone Girl gets it in the end, in more ways than one. The new offering by Seven director David Fincher and star Ben Affleck, Gone Girl, set for release October third, packs a wallop and gets you thinking, and guessing, and shivering. The movie was this year’s New York Film Festival opener. It has been anxiously awaited ever since actress Reese Witherspoon, with the intention to produce, optioned the rights and plans were announced.
Screenwriter Gillian Flynn, who adapted the screenplay from her own best selling novel, has largely succeeded in conveying the exigencies of the story’s intricate plot. And Fincher’s director’s eye and technical mastery creates life on the screen that grabs you, pulls you in and does not let go. Affleck’s performance is one of his best, nuanced, bold, persuasive, and all at perfect turns. Mystery is the order of the day but order is in disarray.
Dysfunctionality in a relationship is at play here, between Nick Dunne, played by Affleck, and Amy Dunne, played by Rosamund Pike. At a point in the film, they are in a sense together in their aloneness. That existential element, typical to another genre, is smartly woven into the story here. As the two of them grow apart, things one was lead to believe start to fall apart because it becomes clear neither of them can be trusted. Gone Girl is also a thriller and the machinations start here.
Without divulging any spoilers, after a turn of fortune for the couple, they move to a place that doesn’t appeal to Amy. They open up a bar, which sustains them, but love is soon lost in the marriage. One day Nick comes home to find Gone Girl. Amy’s disappeared, and there is the appearance of foul play. As soon as we realize we cannot trust either one of their explanations about each other or their relationship, we are on a roller-coaster, house-of-mirrors day at the fair. Nick soon becomes the number one suspect. Amy speaks, when she is gone, through the pages of her diary, which leaves no doubt that if anything happened to her, we should look to Nick. But we will not know until the end if gone girl gets it right.
There will be some, however, who have read the book and feel the movie does not portray some of the darker elements of the novel accurately or amply enough. Such is often the case with adaptations from novel to screen, with the usual culprits being time constraints and monetary concerns. But here we have some of the best of both worlds. There’s the author herself penning the script, a brilliant director with a natural instinct for this kind of material, an actor (and do not forget Oscar winning screenwriter) whose talents seem to grow exponentially by the year, and last but not least, a producer who no doubt fought hard to adhere to the integrity of the novelist’s script.
Gone Girl gets it as it got to open the New York Film Festival. It has already got the critics’ praise and that will not hurt a bit when it comes to the slew of people who have been waiting patiently to see it.
By Nile Ford