Author: Gillian Flynn Genre: Thriller Pages: 432 Published by: Phoenix (Orion Books, Hachette UK)
Adapted into: Gone Girl (2014) by David Fincher; starred by Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne and Rosamund Pike as Amy Elliot Dunne.
Flynn’s Gone Girl is a piece of work you can’t hate just because it’s overwhelming with its marriage theme; yet, it’s not some work you can easily love. Gone Girl is a serious-but-annoying character study and a poignant satire to modern marriages at once. However, when you think it’s all about a dysfunctional marriage, you’re wrong; it also serves as a criticism to some sensation-driven mass media who love controversies more than pure facts. Isn’t that too much to cover in a book? No, that’s just the surface, you gotta go deeper to the septic-tank of Gone Girl to really enjoy the book.
Flynn’s Gone Girl is presented with two perspective: the husband’s and the wife’s; therefore, you will read two entangled stories with two first-person POVs. It’s crazy and nothing less.
It won’t be easy to describe the story, as we need to accommodate both perspectives. Yet, I’ll present it the easiest way: On their fifth anniversary, Amy Dunne—the wife is missing; yet, instead of reacting like a man who loses his wife, Nick Dunne—the husband, keeps acting strange. He’s not being too sad, nor panic, nor mournful, nor cooperating. While the police investigates this case, Nick begins to reveal enigmatic, unnecessary lies he made that instantly draws the police’ attention to make him the first suspect.
The thing is, Amy isn’t just a woman; she’s the people’s favorite and she’s the inspiration of the Amazing Amy book series written by her parents. Media loves to highlight this story and sympathize with Amy, but not Nick. Moreover, when police finds Amy’s diary, bigger secrets reveal themselves: recession of jobs, unhappy marriage—Nick’s being abusive and Amy’s discomfort living in Missouri (they used to live in New York), and worse, Nick’s affair with a younger girl. All the secrets lead to Nick as a murderer of Amy Dunne.
Flynn really owns a tendency to be manipulative. Flynn convinces us that Nick Dunne is a real dickhead. Once you read the narration in Amy’s Diary, you’ll think the same way: Nick’s being freak, demented, and menacing to Amy; no wonder, she fears of her own death in Nick’s hand. Nick’s own POV doesn’t help; it’s told there, how he keeps telling lies without clear motives and how he keeps getting himself in trouble hold my sympathy off. Although, it becomes easier to sympathize on him while he’s being cornered by the media.
The more Flynn corners Nick with his own backfires or with Amy’s testimonies, the more I feel there’s something wrong in this case. I keep thinking that Nick is eventually innocent; he and Amy are just victims of, perhaps, some third party. I keep observing other characters presented in the book, including Margo, Nick’s twin sister and even Amy’s over-protective parents. Yet, I find nothing more convincing to find who the real suspect is, until the first chapter ends.
Not long until comes the second chapter.
Flynn immediately reveals a real shit… that triggers a pile of fuck yous. This is the moment where I realized, Flynn is mortifying me. You should hate this book, because it tells you the bad side of marriage, or it shows you the inside of media capitalism, or it ruins your expectation of the American dream. Yet, you should also love this book, ’cause it presents you one of the most intriguing ‘missing person’ case in literature. That’s the moment where I don’t know whether to love or to hate Gone Girl—because of the piles of twists that happen one after another, all in a patient sequence, never being too slow to escalate the whole mystery.
And then comes the third chapter.
Then, Reese Witherspoon was eager to adapt it into a movie with David Fincher as the director and herself portraying Amy Dunne. Yet, Fincher refused Witherspoon’s idea as he cast Rosamund Pike to portray Amy Dunne instead and Batffleck portraying Nick Dunne; while Witherspoon finally became the producer. To write the script, Fincher asked Gillian Flynn to convert her works into screenplay. And so, Gone Girl is adapted.
The movie was released on October 2014, but, David Fincher himself decided not to screen it in Indonesia, because he didn’t tolerate the censorship done by Indonesian censorship board. So, I haven’t watched the movie. Yet, rumor has it Flynn has changed the third act of the adapted Gone Girl into a completely different third act.
MOVIE VERDICT: David Fincher manifests the haunting, insecure feeling from the book into a visual sickness that haunts so terrible it becomes a pitch-black comedy of “reality”. Gone Girl nails it with powerful story-telling, one of the finest ensemble of casts, and perfect manifestation of modern day satire.