It’s rare that you see a movie that truly does justice to a book, and even more rare that a movie is slightly better than the book. Gone Girl, in my humble opinion, is one of those rare, rare gems that outshines its source material. David Fincher’s adaptation of this psychological thriller opened in theaters this past weekend, smashing it at the box office with a cool $38 million.
The movie follows Nick Dunne (played excellently by Ben Affleck), a writer-turned-bartender who discovers his wife is missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The police get involved and… Well, it’s also my humble opinion that the less you know of the plot of the movie, the better. Also, there are many twists in the plot, so in the interest of saving you from spoilers, I’ll leave it at that and just get to the stuff I loved about the movie.
- Rosamund Pike. I’ve heard some movie critics clamoring for the Oscar for her performance. I’d have to say I agree – her wide-eyed stares are hauntingly perfect. Her American accent is pretty great too.
- The score. It’s almost too easy to tell who scored this movie (but not necessarily in a bad way). Trent Reznor’s familiarly loud, often minor and discordant tones abound through the film, punctuating each scene with the perfect amount of dread and suspense. Honestly, the score might be my favorite thing about the movie – having read the book, I knew what was going to happen, but the music kept the thrill alive. Especially at that lake house scene. *SHUDDER*
- The supporting cast. Kim Dickens as Detective Boney and Carrie Coon as Margot Dunne give memorable performances, peppering the film with the right amount of dry wit and emotion. Neil Patrick Harris is perfectly creepy as Desi Collings. One can almost forget Tyler Perry’s directorial foibles while watching his performance as attorney Tanner Bolt. And I always love to see Patrick Fugit, even if his main role in the film was to judgingly stare (and hey, it worked).
- The screenplay. Gillian Flynn adapted the screenplay herself from her 2012 book, which is possibly why it translated so well from page to screen. Readers will notice a few tiny tweaks in the story, which I believe only served to streamline the film and didn’t take away from the overall story. Prime example: the transitions between Nick’s and Amy’s perspectives were brilliant. I kind of wondered how they’d work that out, given the changing timelines, among other things. It went just like the book, diary included – Flynn included just enough narration to keep the feel the same.
Some scenes were adapted just how we pictured it, too. As fellow LOTS blogger Jessi pointed out, that press conference scene with Nick’s smile was practically word for word: (“I even blurted ‘Perfect!’ in the theater like a loony!”). And again, that lake scene was, well… Very well adapted.
- The plot holes. Again, trying not to spoiler-ize here. Plot holes can make or break a film – usually break. Here, I think there’s some genius in the holes in this whodunit. There’s just enough deniability to some of the story that makes you really think: could it have been pulled off? Between human error/emotion, media manipulation and psychopath motivation… The doubt makes the movie linger and keeps you analyzing all the way home.