Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Movie Review: Gone Girl (2014)
Are you Team Amy or Team Nick? Or have you not read the 2012 bestseller by Gillian Flynn on which this startlingly good movie was based? I read it and I loved it- it's a crazy-good thriller with twist after crazy twist, right to the bitter end. On the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Elliott Dunne goes missing, and her husband Nick finds himself under suspicion. The story is set in Missouri after Amy and Nick have moved there through a combination of money problems and family illness. Amy is a trust-fund baby who's lost her trust fund, a native New Yorker who's not happy in a flyover state, as well as a woman with a deep well of anger towards her husband and men in general. Nick is a deeply flawed man who is also struggling to put their lives back together. Nick has secrets; Amy does too. Amy and Nick have had problems- serious, serious problems, and their relationship is one of the most disturbed fictional marriages I've seen. There is a trail of clues- actually more than one- and it seems like Amy might not be coming back.
But what's really going on here?
Gone Girl the book was a phenomenon when it came out and remained so. It was a hardback that became a book club staple (rare) and one of those books it seemed like everyone was reading. It's extremely well-crafted guilty-pleasure reading that touches on powerful themes- female anger, male anger, marriage and family- in dark, dark ways. And the movie has been one of the most anticipated of recent years for the bookish. Would David Fincher do it right? What about casting Ben Affleck as Nick? Gillian Flynn's writing powers the book; how would the filmmakers translate that to the screen?
Well, I'm happy to report that as an adaptation of the book the movie is more than solid. I enjoyed every tense minute; it's well-paced and atmospheric, and Trent Reznor's musical score does a lot to enhance the creep factor. At 2.5 hours it hits all the plot points even if it doesn't go into as much detail with them as Flynn does in the book. The actors are great; I particularly liked Kim Dickens as the lead investigator and Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy stalker ex. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were excellent as Nick and Amy; Tyler Perry provided a little reality check as Nick's lawyer. The buzz was wrong; the movie is very faithful to the book, so if you've read it, there aren't going to be any surprises. If you loved the book, you'll love the movie too, I think. If you didn't like the book, maybe you should skip it, and if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for?
Here's my review of the book in case you're interested!