Having not read the bestselling book, I managed to also avoid all spoilers regarding the ending to David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl. Unfortunately the ending influenced my opinion of the film, so spoilers will be given in this review. A proper *Spoiler Alert* will appear prior to the spoiler being revealed.
Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl has been a bestseller since its publication in 2012. The book made rounds at book clubs everywhere and was well received due to its nonlinear structure, its unique view of marriage, and its unpredictable ending. When David Fincher signed on to direct, and Flynn herself would pen the screenplay, it was apparent the film adaptation would be just as successful as the book.
Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a former journalist who moved from New York City to Missouri with his wife Amy after the economic recession left both of them unemployed. The story is told from Amy’s (Rosamund Pike) point of view, as she recounts their first date, first kiss, and frankly discusses the downfall of their marriage after the move to Missouri. She resents him for moving her so far away from her family, and she resents the time he spends at the local bar that Nick and his sister co-own.
Amy also discusses her husband’s affair, playing herself to be the victim; and the audience believes every word she says. When Amy goes missing, Nick is the number one suspect for both the police and the audience. After all, the lying, cheating husband story has been told a million times, and the audience is prepared for a Waiting To Exhale-set the car on fire-style revenge. But readers of the book know that Amy has more than that up her sleeve.
It is approximately halfway through the movie that it is revealed Amy staged her kidnapping completely, down to every last detail of framing Nick. She hides out in a hotel, dyes her hair, and stays on the run for some time. She runs out of money, and seeks the help of an old boyfriend/stalker Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) and frames him for kidnapping her, raping her, and then she murders him, which she says she did in self-defense.
She then returns to Nick, battered and bloody, with the police and media present. Nick knows she has been lying the entire time but for his own sake, must welcome her lovingly back into his home.
In the recent weeks, it has been announced that a sequel will be produced, which makes me feel a little bit better about the tacked on ending. Nick and Amy are left together in their home with this ruse of being a happily married couple? By this time, I am fearful for Nick. I wouldn’t put anything past Amy and his life is seriously in danger. I guess it could go both ways though. Nick is angry enough with Amy – and has a history of violence with her – and her life is just as much in danger as his.
This is an awful, crazy example of marriage. War of the Roses is child’s play compared to the antics of Nick and Amy. The film is well written, well directed, and extremely well-acted (Rosamund Pike is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance), but the film is also very unsettling. The open ending is jarring and frustrating, and almost ruins the movie. Viewing the film as a whole though, for its story telling and technical aspects makes appreciation for it grow, even if I would never want to see it again.
The only extra on the Blu-ray is an entertaining audio commentary with Fincher. Also included is a copy of the book “Amazing Amy Tattle Tale”, by Rand and Marybeth Elliott, Ph.D., which plays into the film.
Gone Girl is a must watch for Academy Award completists, Fincher fans, and fans of the novel. It is difficult to watch at times, yet mesmerizing in its unrelenting web of lies and deceit. This is Murder She Wrote in its darkest, most vile form. Superb performances elevate the film, and it could possibly remain one of the most unpredictable mysteries of all time. It’s difficult to say I “liked” it, but I think that’s the point.
20th Century Fox presents Gone Girl. Directed by: David Fincher. Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris. Written by: Gillian Flynn. Running time: 148 minutes. Rating: R. Released: January 13, 2015.
Tags: Ben Affleck, David Fincher, Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, mystery, Neil Patrick Harris, novel, Oscar, Rosamund Pike