Consider this a sort of dual review of both the book and movie, simply because I finished reading the book literally two hours before I left to see the film. I’m a masochist, I know. When I received the book six months ago from a friend, multiple people warned me that the characters lacked any semblance of likeability. I cracked the book that night and read about fifty pages before sitting it on my nightstand where it would stay unread for the next six months. Not that the book wasn’t intriguing, in fact, whodunit books are usually my favorite genre. However, life was more interesting at the time. Nonetheless, when I read that Ben Affleck was going to star in the film version of Gone Girl and it released at my favorite Seattle cinema (SIFF Cinema Uptown), I knew I better dust off that book. I read the remainder of the hardback in less than 24 hours before my friend and I hit the theater.
Since all the details of the book were so fresh in my mind, I was anticipating the film’s every move and it made all the discrepancies glaringly obvious. I was also expecting possibly too much as far as acting and detail. I felt like there was something severely lacking in both Ben Affleck’s and Rosamund Pike’s performances. I don’t want to say it was a bad film because it wasn’t but in comparison to the book, they lacked sufficient interior lives to understand the motives behind their actions. I don’t think a viewer who never read the book would understand how truly cold their marriage had become and the true anti-hero Nick. I think Affleck brings too much of a “good guy” star persona to adequately portray the novel’s Nick. I think he could have had more depth with; I hate to say this, a better script. Rosamund Pike did a good job as a cold ice queen but her reason for being that way was never really explained. I craved back-story! Neither character had sufficient back-story, in my opinion.
Once you read the book, you will understand how there is no true victim in the story. However, in the film, you immediately take Nick’s side and you never leave it. Albeit, even in the book, I was internally screaming at Nick to commit a murder-suicide, especially considering the bombshell at the end. See what I did there? Gillian Flynn did a brilliant job of painting Nick in an unlikeable, yet not complete villain, way for nearly half the book before you realize Amy’s true character. In the film, they rushed it. I won’t point out everything else that was missing because this review would be extremely long but I will give a few shout outs as far as spot on performances. Tyler Perry, I can’t believe I liked you in a serious role, but I did! Neil Patrick Harris, your demise was by far the best and most shocking scene.
That all being said, the film was good when you think about it less in the “how true did they stay to the book?” and more in the “what is the big picture?” sense. David Fincher did an amazing job, ensuring the audience felt the emptiness of these people and their lives. There was also just enough humor to not make it uncomfortable to watch. However, most people looked away at two scenes – you can’t have a psychopath movie without some gruesome violence, right? That crazy bitch, Amy Dunne, is probably the best psycho “see you next Tuesday” since Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction.
As I’m sure you know, there has been some argument in the press about the feminist issue and this film. Women using sex to manipulate men, going so far as to cry rape to punish them for their mistreatment of the fragile feminine ego. My two cents, it’s a movie. I don’t identify with 80% of the female characters in films and this one is no different. Amy doesn’t represent women in general; Flynn’s book is a satire, hyperbole in the most artful way. If I thought there was a reason to hate this book or film because it disrespected women, I would say it but that is not the case. If you want to hate some books because of their portrayal of women, I implore you to burn the Twilight series in my name.
Overall, I rate this film three and a half out of five spectacles. The book – I don’t rate those, just read it.