In the typically painful book-to-movie genre of film, viewers are often asked to sit back and watch an over simplified story acted out by a poorly cast team of A-list actors and actresses. But as for the story of “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, this is hardly the case. Readers and virgins of the story alike will be on the edge of their seats, cursing and swooning over the on-screen husband and wife, Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, respectively).
The story takes off quickly; Nick receives a strange call about a disturbance in his home, at which point he realizes his wife is missing. Without any other suspects for the capture, attention from both the police and media quickly focus on the emotionally detached husband. Upon recognizing this shift of attention, Nick starts his own investigation of this mysterious disappearance. He hires the greasy, famous Defense Attorney, Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry). Things quickly turn from wrong to downright sour when Nick discovers clues that seem to be left by his wife herself.
In this thrilling and deceitful mystery, Amy’s diary serves as another perspective. Her written narrative takes us to the past. The diary shows Nick and Amy’s romantic beginning in the streets of New York and their troubled road as writers in a very evident recession. The perfect couple’s blissful engagement and eventual marriage is quickly tested when Amy’s trust fund wears thin. The illness of Nick’s mother brings the newlyweds to his hometown in Missouri.
As we learn about the couple’s past and present situation, the clarity only begins to surface when both characters are willing to uncover their secrets. The layers of characterization and dishonesty from our storytellers leave you on the edge of your seats, even as a past reader, until the very end.
Affleck plays the confident and charming all-American boy Nick Dunne almost too well. His natural ability to appear smug in almost every emotion drives the viewer to hate him even while sympathizing with him as a victim. And this is not to say that Pike does not steal the stage in every scene she appears. Pike has the ability to capture Amy’s cunning yet flawed psyche – unmatched by many of her peers.
David Fincher’s adaptation of “Gone Girl” captures all the subtle themes and motifs sprinkled throughout Flynn’s original published work.
Flynn explores the theme of media and the effect it has on the judgment of both the law and the masses.
In an era so sprung on scandal, Nick is dragged along through the interviews and press conferences as his mistakes gradually cost him the sympathy of women throughout the country.
These suspicions further fuel an investigation of Nick while vigils and prayers are held in honor of Amy. His story and discoveries are no match for the pointing fingers of an impressionable populace.
Maybe even more notably, the story captures the fear of inadequacy in a believable way from both male and female perspectives.
Nick, bruised by his poor relationship with his father and Oedipus complex with his mother, finds a woman so amazing that simply keeping up with her is enough to mollify his insecurity for some time.
But as Flynn would have it, the smart and beautiful Dunne would be cunning enough to make sure she had her husband roped in so tight that he could never leave.
“Gone Girl” addresses some very ugly truths of love while exposing the gray roles that gender stereotypes play in real life relationships; violence may not always be masculine and timidity may not always be feminine.
Even after I went to see the movie myself, after having read the book, I remained on the edge of my seat during the movie’s entirety. The movie found a way to capture the finer details book-to-movie adaptations often fail to do. The direction and pace of this adaptation will enrapture even the most stubborn book advocates.