“When I think of my wife, I always think of the back of her head. I picture cracking her lovely skull, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers,” said Nick Dunne.
The opening lines narrated by Nick Dunne (portrayed by Ben Affleck) has actually cued us what the whole story is about, but the story itself refuses to do the easy way—cause it’s Gone Girl. This picture is an adaptation of a best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn—who also wrote the screenplay upon the director, David Fincher’s request—of a satire to modern-age marriage and involvement of sensation-laden mass media to dramatize tragedy. However, if we really crack the skull of Gone Girl, unspool the brain, what we get is a pitch-black comedy, a very bitter one that haunts our thought of marriage.
How is it a comedy? Just go deeper to the plot: On their fifth anniversary, Amy Dunne (portrayed brilliantly by Rosamund Pike)—Nick’s wife is missing; yet, instead of reacting like a man who loses his wife, Nick 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. Ain’t that too funny? Definitely funny; too funny it feels so frigid to the bitter end.
As a devoted reader of the adapted novel (READ MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE), I need no concern on the piles of twist in Gone Girl, although those things are the main attraction of the movie as well. What concerns me most is how the movie accommodates the book’s most acclaimed two-POV narrative (husband’s POV and wife’s POV), which triggers the twist and all the intrigues in the book. With effective editing and magnificent presentation of the two-POV narrative, Gone Girl makes an efficacious story-telling. Fincher’s vision to the story gives it a new life—so it is a brilliant adaptations as it manifest the haunting, insecure feeling from the book into a visual sickness that eventually “gives marriage a bad name.”
However, the best part of this adaptation is obviously the ensemble of cast led by the gone girl, Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. In portraying a NY posh woman labeled as “Amazing Amy”, who finally moved to a countryside in Missouri, Pike’s resonant performance is a completely award-worthy. She might appear as a Bond girl in Die Another Day (2002), but what she’s done in Gone Girl is completely a milestone in her career and definitely a lifetime achievement for her—getting us to a love-hate interest to her. Meanwhile, her on-screen counterpart, Affleck might be overshadowed by Pike’s shaded charm; but I think he’s done one of his best here—exactly luring deepest sympathy like what Nick Dunne has done in the book. The rests are as brilliant: Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry are awesome, though they only appear briefly; and Carrie Coon portrays Nick’s twin sister, Margo, in an exceptional way. I always trust Fincher for his preference to build the ensemble of cast; and Gone Girl is one of his finest.
Perhaps, Gone Girl performs poorly in the Oscar—Fincher missed the Best Director nomination, Flynn missed Best Adapted Screenplay, and Reznor & Ross missed Best Original Score—but still it deserves way more than that. Mystery is best executed by man of mystery; Fincher nails that with a clear highlight to the novel’s flame in satirizing some modern social issue. Finally, Gone Girl has presented a proof as a milestone to modern mystery in cinema, which haunts so terrible it becomes a pitch-black comedy of “reality.”
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.
Gone Girl (2014)
Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Adaptation Directed by: David Fincher Written by: Gillian Flynn based on her own novel Starred by: Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon Running Time: 149 mins Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language