In Gone Girl, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home to discover that his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has disappeared from their Missouri home under suspicious circumstances. Despite her quiet mid-western life with Nick, Amy is no stranger to the public spotlight; as a kid in New York City, she was the inspiration for the popular children’s book character “Amazing Amy,” earning her a host of adoring fans (and more than one obsessed stalker).
In a rare instance of a novelist being permitted to adapt her own book for the screen, Flynn has done a fine job of boiling her cleverly structured story down to the essentials, doing the necessary trimming but retaining everything her fans will want to see. Despite published reports that major plot changes were being made, particularly in the third act, this simply isn’t true; it’s an extremely faithful adaptation of what is ultimately a withering critique of the dynamics of marriage.
Flynn’s fans, then, should be satisfied, as this is about as precise an onscreen representation of the work they love as they could wish for. For hardcore Fincher fanatics, however, it may be a slightly different story. His great talent is, as ever, plain to see; he gets the most out of every scene, situation and character.
But in nearly all the films he made through The Social Network, you could feel him pushing himself either to the cinematic and psychological brink (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac) or into unfamiliar dramatic terrain (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, TV’s House of Cards). Dragon Tattooand now Gone Girl show him working in a somewhat pulpier, more popular vein that, frankly, needs him more than he needs it.
The story of a wife’s disappearance, the resulting media frenzy and growing suspicion over the husband’s culpability, Gone Girl unfolds in alternating chapters from each partner’s point of view; Amy Elliott Dunne’s diary for a good while serves to fill in the backstory of the relationship, while Nick Dunne’s commentary begins on the day the lady vanishes and continues as the mystery deepens.