In the era of the trashy thriller novel, Gillian Flynn’s original Gone Girl was a breath of fresh air, combining unique narrative structure and thematic devices with traditional crime mystery. Naturally with her adapted screenplay Flynn takes the next logical step with Fight Club director David Fincher, leading pair Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike and veteran composer duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Flynn’s Gone Girl overachieves in almost every department and provides a truly fantastic cinematic experience.
Discussing the plot of Gone Girl without spoiling any of the twists and turns it takes beyond the 30-minute mark is difficult. The premise, however, is simple: failed journalists Nick and Amy Dunne’s marriage is interrupted on their fifth anniversary when Nick arrives home to find his lounge destroyed and his wife missing. As the police and media close in on him as the primary suspect, Nick enrols the help of sister Margo and lawyer Tanner Bolt to find Amy himself. Meanwhile, Amy’s diary entries simultaneously retell the story of her once-idyllic, now-crumbling marriage.
The liberties Flynn’s screenplay takes from the 2012 novel are at least an appropriate decision and at most a marvellous opportunity. Though it suffers slightly in inheriting a couple of rather frustrating plot-holes and lapses in narrative expression, this is more than made up for by Fincher’s mastery of dark comedy, subtlety and timing. The black humour which permeates the work serves sometimes to diffuse tension and other times to enhance it – and each time it is carried out to devastating effect.
As with Flynn and Fincher, the chemistry between Affleck and Pike comes as one of the movie’s strongest assets. While Affleck’s portrayal of absent-minded but passionate Nick feels incredibly natural and emotive, Pike’s performance is nothing short of haunting; her (and, to a lesser extent, Affleck’s) meta-acting and shady narrating is a true testament to their ability to step into the shoes of their characters. The film also sees Neil Patrick Harris and relative newcomer Carrie Coon in supporting roles, each demonstrating a phenomenal grasp of subtlety and timing for which Fincher could hardly find a better fit.
Though Flynn’s screenplay is not without minor flaws, coupled with Fincher’s phenomenal artistic vision for the piece, Reznor and Ross’ beautifully menacing score and infallible acting across the board, Gone Girl makes for one of this year’s most memorable films and a prime Academy Award candidate.
Gone Girl is released nationwide on 3rd October 2014.
Watch the trailer for Gone Girl here: