Gillian Flynn and David Fincher are a match made in book-to-film adaptation heaven. Fincher’s directing style perfectly communicates the domestic menace of Flynn’s psychological thriller. He presents Gone Girl in a blue-gray color palette with an insidiously droning score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Every detail hints at the danger that can lie beneath a calm facade. Rosamund Pike stars as Amy Dunne, the wife who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, and Ben Affleck is her troubled husband Nick.
Warning: This post is intended for people who have read the book or seen the movie. Gone Girl is just infinitely more fun to discuss when you don’t have to worry about spoilers.
Can we take a moment to marvel at this casting? Admittedly, I’m biased when it comes to Ben Affleck, but even if he doesn’t fit your image of Nick, the aging golden boy is a character that he embodies with ease. The role of Amy could make or break the movie, and I think Fincher was wise to cast a low-profile actress. Hopefully the reveal of Amy’s true character is more effective when viewers have no preconceived notions about Rosamund Pike. An impeccable supporting cast helps to ground a story that could feel apart from reality. I’m absolutely obsessed with Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit as the local police officers, and Tyler Perry is refreshingly understated as defense attorney Tanner Bolt.
Rosamund Pike as Amy requires her own paragraph. Her ethereal beauty is a perfect fit, and she’s inscrutable enough to play Amy. I’ve seen the movie twice and been thrown by her voice both times. It’s low and posh, somehow making her feel British even though she’s using an American accent. Pike excels at portraying Amy’s dark side, but she performs the voiceovers in a way that creates less juxtaposition between Diary Amy and Real Amy than I feel when reading the book. To her credit, by the end she is a truly frightening creature. After my second viewing, I enjoyed hearing the teens in front of me discuss how creeped out they were.
Some viewers complain that they miss Nick’s voice, the way the novel’s alternating chapters give equal weight to both points of view. Honestly, the thought didn’t even cross my mind when I first saw the movie. Gillian Flynn actually wrote the script, and she says it felt appropriate to have Amy acting as the “voice of God.” After all, it’s her orchestrations that set the plot in motion. In my opinion, the film still presents the dual perspectives in a way that works for the medium. As Flynn points out, too many voiceovers would start to feel like a book on tape.
Seeing the movie a second time, I found myself thinking about the Bechdel Test. Whether or not the film features female characters talking to each other about something besides a man, as the Bechdel Test requires, Gone Girl has a lot of female characters. And rather than the genders talking among themselves, the movie most often shows men and women talking to each other. This feels apt for a story that hinges on gender dynamics. Fans of the book will be happy to know that Amy’s “Cool Girl” monologue is preserved for the screen. While her acerbic speech (about women taking on characteristics based on what men will find attractive) is startling, it underlines the theme that identity is a performance. The film fixes on this crucial concept, which is enough for me to deem it a success.