Gone Girl is the basic definition of, Don’t judge a book by its cover. It was a movie filled with twists and turns I never saw coming. Even though the movie brought you on a gripping ride, it wasn’t a strong film. As this was an adaptation of a book, director David Fincher and screenwriter Gillian Flynn (also the author of the book) follow the novel’s plot line pretty closely, but the adaptation to film brings a few surprises. Bear in mind, I have yet to read the book. I’ve only read the summary of it.
The story is one of marriage, economy, troubled childhood, weakness, psychopathology, and pure evil. Evil wins, hands down. Those who rave about the film seem to miss that point completely. Why is that?
A wife disappears on the morning of the couple’s fifth anniversary. The husband is a slacker, the obvious suspect. The marriage was stressed. The wife was the subject of her wealthy parents’ children’s books based on her falsified childhood. Loss of jobs, bad economy and deteriorating health of his parents leads them to move to husband’s home town in Missouri which the wife loathes. Her disappearance becomes a media sensation and the husband is convicted by press.
But in fact, the wife had for many months planned her own “murder “in order to frame her husband. She is a psychopath of the worst, most seriously disturbed kind. The truth of this gradually unfolds to the husband and to the reader/viewer.
The wife’s plan to actually kill herself is altered along the way. When she sees her husband lie so effectively and so glibly on television begging for her return, she is excited. She wants him back. She brutally kills a rescuer/benefactor, Neil Patrick Harris, completely miscast in the film. She returns home, blood-soaked, to her media-surrounded home. All those who had pronounced the husband guilty are shocked.
Her parents are relieved and grateful. But now the reader/viewer knows that she is a monster of proportions; a woman so damaged and disturbed that no one in her sphere could ever have a normal life. The husband tries to tell police she is a murderer; they say they have no proof she was not a victim of the “kidnapper” she killed.
And here is where it all goes so wrong. The wife tells the husband she is pregnant so he decides to stay with her. He tells his twin sister who is his rock and best friend that he cannot let her have his baby and raise it without him. The End!
While the husband is weak and unmotivated to achieve, and an adulterer, he is not a narcissist, not a psychopath. Wife clearly presents as both deadly narcissist and psychopath. No remotely sane person would agree to stay with a person so obviously insane, let alone to bring a child into the world to raise with that person. The ending is the most unsatisfying of any book or film in my experience. It is also unbelievable. Normal people, people within the huge range of normal, do not choose to live in a nightmare or to subject children to said nightmare. The ending obliterates all the good writing that came before.
This film, so astonishingly good until the end, is a toxic addition to our contaminated culture.
As for the acting, Rosamund Pike turns in a superb performance as Amy Dunne. Pike far outshone Affleck in this movie. She was the perfect “Amy” which I thought would be the harder character to pull off. But Ben Affleck’s performance as Nick seemed flat to me, lacking the emotional dimension needed for a character under such an immense amount of stress.The one thing Affleck had going for him was the idea that Nick was a regular shlubb with a pretty face. Affleck has a limited acting range, but I do appreciate his work behind the camera. He is after all a director and actor with an Academy Award. This was just one aspect of the film that prevented me from fully entering into Flynn’s otherwise intriguing action mystery. A marginal script and numerous flaws in terms of realism were other features that pulled me out of Flynn’s world. One of the most distracting moments was the soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. In many scenes, the music was jarringly mood inappropriate. When they’re doing their job well, you don’t consciously notice them. It’s only when they fail somehow that their work intrudes on the viewer’s experience. For me, the Reznor-Ross Gone Girl soundtrack was definitely intrusive.
I found the twisted nature of their relationship and its improbability a puzzle to figure out. Can they really be the “perfect match” for one another? Could they come back together after all they put one another through?
It was fantastically spun plot with a disastrous ending.
PS: Special thanks to Nuffnang for the tickets! And thanks to WayShen for the great catch-up. 🙂
Was also lucky enough to bump into Dennis Yin. *mini starstruck moment*
Till next time..