Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel, Gone Girl, was made for a director like David Fincher. The guy loves to dip his toes in dark, mirky subject matter and this story, full of such sinisterness and well, bat-crap crazy behaviour, is right up the two-time Oscar nominees alley. Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as married couple Nick and Amy Dunne, this is not your typical tale of love, loss and betrayal – twists and turns are aplenty in what is one hell of a rocky ride.
Nick (Affleck) arrives home on his wedding anniversary to find his living room trashed and his wife of five years gone without a trace. The police are called and here starts the beginning of a missing persons case that sweeps the nation. The authorities smell something fishy from the start, and the media jump on Nick’s back – an easy going guy who appears unfazed my his partners disappearance – and all hell breaks loose. This begins not just the dissection of the man himself, or his wife, but their lives, and, most importantly, their marriage.
The beauty of the book was not just in its storyline, but in the power of its characters. The Dunne’s are in a battle between themselves, and in another one against the outside world. Flynn’s involvement in the film (she wrote the screenplay) is evident given the movies loyalty to the novel. Fincher’s usual style works extremely well within the context of the story, but his casting choices were his adaptations greatest strength. Affleck – strong jawed and lovable smile – impresses as the charming Nick, whilst Pike’s intensity as Amy is a career best performance from the British actress. Neil Patrick Harris, cast in a small role as Amy’s former flame Desi Collings, brought the creep-factor to proceedings, whilst Tyler Perry was a scene stealer as the charismatic (and cocky) lawyer, Tanner Bolt.
The Colorado born directors biggest failure is simply not stretching the story – and its intensity – further than he did. This may seem a strange critique of a man who helmed such flicks as Se7en and Zodiac, but the books brutal pace is something even he could not quite get to grips with. A slow start to proceedings, the film catches fire in the second act as Nick’s life slowly starts to unravel. The book is relentless, whilst the film is so in patches. Key character points – especially in the closing few acts – deserved more attention, especially surrounding Amy’s changing feelings towards her husband.
It is a sharp, edgy and dynamic attempt at capturing a masterful story. For the most part Fincher got it spot on, but there are moments that fell off the pace, or could have been pushed even further, which will be the difference between this adaptation being seen as very good film – of which it is – to an Oscar contender (of which it could, but probably will not be).