When I heard the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, was being made into a movie, I knew I had to see it. I read the novel two years ago for a creative writing class, where we discussed the brilliantly complex characters Flynn created. This dark film, directed by David Fincher, is the story of a missing wife whose husband is the prime suspect. The movie switches back and forth from present day, with Nick, the husband, to flashbacks taken from Amy’s (the wife’s) diary. As a book to film adaptation, the Gone Girl movie followed the plot of the book nearly exactly, which comes as no surprise because Flynn also wrote the screenplay. I think the movie captured the essence of the book nicely. If you’re a fan of the book you’ll be a fan of the movie. I enjoyed the movie, but I did have a few problems with it.
First, it’s difficult to review this movie without giving away the twist that happens about halfway through and completely changes the course of the movie. So I'll have to be a little vague. However, this is a spoiler-free review, so if you haven’t read the book, continue to read without fear.
The movie starts with the day of Amy’s (Rosamund Pike) disappearance. Nick (Ben Affleck) comes home from the bar he owns with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) to find that a glass table in the living room has been shattered and his wife is nowhere to be found. The action moves right along at first, with the movie leaving you guessing as to whether or not Nick is innocent. He claims he had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance, but he doesn’t have an alibi. Also, the movie began with him complaining to Margo about Amy, so he does have a motive.
Gone Girl was two and a half hours, about a half hour too long. At times, the movie was fast-paced, other times it slowed to a crawl. There were sections of the film, when they continue to discover clues about Amy’s disappearance, where so much was thrown at the audience at once. This left large portions where nothing really happened. When the movie ended, a man in front of me exclaimed, “Finally!” Not the best reaction to a movie ending. Overall, I felt it was too slow when it should have kept the thriller-vibe going and kept the pace up throughout.
All of the acting in Gone Girl was fantastic. Ben Affleck was a great casting choice in my opinion, as he can perfectly pull off the slightly smug leading man. Without revealing too much, Rosamund Pike’s Amy is an incredibly complex and interesting woman, something that can’t be said about most female characters on the big screen today. If you’re a How I Met Your Mother fan, you’ll love Neil Patrick Harris’s Desi, one of Amy’s creepy former-flames. However, if you’re one of those people who need a character they can love and root for, a good person who will win in the end, this movie is not for you. Neither of the main characters’ moral compasses point north.
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This movie gives an interesting commentary on the media and its effect on the justice system. Before there’s really any evidence against Nick, a Nancy Grace-type journalist decides he’s guilty and turns the public against him. Much of the movie focuses on the public’s view of Nick and Amy, seeing him as the murderous husband and her as America’s sweetheart. Gone Girl also deals with marriage and how it changes people. It offers a somewhat bleak but interesting take on how people in relationships change for their significant others and what effect that has on both people.
In short, Gone Girl was an interesting film that, unfortunately, lagged at points. If you liked the book, as I did, I think you’ll like the movie. If you like characters that aren’t “good,” characters that are difficult to like, you’ll like the movie. If you don’t like seeing sex and violence on screen, you won’t like Gone Girl. If you don’t like gloomier movies with a touch of dark humor, it's not for you either.