When best-selling novels are adapted for the big screen, it is fair to say that they are not always well received. Spending less time with the characters can affect how much investment and interest you have in them and sections can be added or taken away to aid the transition. It is important though that the essence of the story is maintained and having Gone Girl’s author Gillian Flynn on screenwriting duty for director David Fincher’s cinematic take on her mystery thriller certainly gives it authenticity. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star as the dysfunctional couple Nick and Amy Dunne who appear to have the perfect marriage. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick finds that there has been a disturbance at their home and his wife is nowhere to be seen. The search for Amy quickly escalates into a media circus and the finger of blame soon pivots to her doting husband.
It is tricky to discuss the plot in any real depth without giving anything away but the twisted narrative is definitely what makes it so enjoyable. Those that have read the book beforehand may feel it is less impactful because of this. The clever unreliable narrator technique is nicely implemented with the use of voiceover, and the tense score really adds weight to how perceptions are played with throughout. Fincher is no stranger to controversial subject matter and his style is a good match for the material. He earns the certification of the film with the darkness he is associated with. The complexity of the non-linear delivery is dealt with incredibly effectively as Nick and Amy’s relationship is picked apart through flashbacks. It is bold and intelligent and has dashes of spiky humour, despite dabbling into cliché now and then, particularly with the good cop bad cop detectives on the case.
Affleck and Pike more than do their bit to illustrate the highs and lows of married life. The former is charismatic yet brooding, and latter is everything you would want from a leading lady. They both appear so polished in what seems like an idyllic marriage from the outside looking in, yet have more sides to them than a dodecahedron. I would go as far to say that this is my favourite Ben Affleck performance and Pike is equally as impressive. As the plot thickens, key figures are introduced such as fast talking attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) and Amy’s ex-boyfriend Desi (Neil Patrick Harris). Both are fresh ingredients to the flavoursome developments, offering intriguing angles and bringing out additional attributes of Nick and Amy. Carrie Coon is also very good as Nick’s twin sister and confidant.
A solid example of when a book to film jump really works, ‘Gone Girl’ excellently showcases how writer and director can collaborate to good effect and this will go down as one of David Fincher’s strong ones alongside Fight Club and Seven. Boasting a track record for sophisticated visuals this is noticeably less stylised than his norm, focussing directly on the substance. The muted colours make up the ideal canvas for this jolting psychological drama that really digs deep into the subject of marital happiness…or lack of it.