When I think David Fincher I instantly think of Fight Club. It’s easily one of his best works. His most recent work was the so-so Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake, which obviously could never be as good as its Swedish counterpart. As an avid reader I heard Gone Girl was amazing, and because I always appreciate a good book, I knew I had to read it before the movie came out and ruined all the twists and turns. Well, that was a mistake because the book starts out fantastically, but then hits the twist, and turns into one of the most unbelievable plots I’ve ever read.
Gone Girl has two plotlines unfolding. The first is that of Nick Dunn, husband to the beautiful Amy. It is their fifth wedding anniversary, and he comes home to find her missing. We watch as Nick follows the clues to a treasure hunt his wife puts together every year on their anniversary, while the police believe that he killed his wife. The other story is that of Amy, told through diary entries starting with the first night they met, and ending right before her disappearance.
Normally Fincher is able to get great performances out of his actors (Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, and so on). Let’s be honest, though, Ben Affleck is far from an amazing actor. His version of Nick is less sleazy, and more “vicodin-popping schmuck”. Rosamund Pike’s narrative is cold and sharp, missing the charm and love that the character is given in the novel. These are vital to the characters, and with the cast missing the mark on the roles they are suppose to be playing, it’s hard to care. The result is a twist that doesn’t matter. I wasn’t connected to anyone because they felt like hollow shells of the characters they were meant to be. I must admit, though, that Tyler Perry gives a fantastic performance as Tanner Bolt. He is just smarmy enough, yet likable enough, to believe him as a man that could get OJ Simpson out of a murder conviction.
With Gillian Flynn writing the script for her own novel adaptation, I was hoping it would be spot on. Instead we get a rushed first hour, with many things just not making sense until the big reveal. Then we continue down the same tired plot of the book, and it’s just as unbelievable as it is there. The book and the film require a better ending, and while there are a few beats more to the film, it still lacks any sort of punch. My theatre was rolling with laughter during the final act of the film because it’s just that absurd. It isn’t believable, and reeks of a Lifetime “Movie of the Week”.
Fincher has a great visual style. Even something like Zodiac, which I didn’t care for, oozes with style. The problem with Dragon Tattoo was that it was too cut and paste. Gone Girl falls a little closer to Tattoo than Zodiac. There are some great shots sprinkled throughout the film – the abandoned mall is fantastic, and he captures the look and feel perfectly – but those type of shots are few and far between. There are a few moments near the end that I would love to mention, but it’s impossible to do so without spoiling anything.
Trent Reznor’s score is fantastic and brings life to every scene, more so than anything else that happens during the film. I’m not sure if Reznor picked the licensed music in the film, but there’s a scene early on that has “Don’t Fear the Reaper” playing while Nick drives his father home. It’s a little too corny for it’s own good, but once Reznor’s score kicks in again, it’s back to dreaming a better film was unfolding around it.
Is Gone Girl a terrible film? No. It’s completely watchable, and the first hour, while obviously less detailed than the novel, is still an entertaining murder mystery. However, much like the novel, things fall apart once the twist hits, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy what was happening. There’s no chemistry between the characters, Go and Nick don’t feel like twins at all, and Amy and Nick’s relationship feels off in all of the flashback sequences. With all that said, though, if you enjoyed the book, you’ll probably love the movie, as it stays fairly true to the source material.