Tuesday, October 7, 2014
He Said / She Said in Gone Girl
Gone Girl tells the story of a dream (or nightmare) marriage between Nick and Amy Dunne. It's as simple as this: one day, Nick comes home and the living room looks like a crime scene--the coffee table is broken, a ottoman is flipped over, there are spots of blood in the kitchen. But there's no sign of Amy. Nick calls the police (naturally) and so begins the investigation that makes up the entirety of Gone Girl. The film is told through two distinct lenses: the present day one, focusing on Nick and the investigation and corresponding search, and the past one: flashbacks from Amy's written diary, which depicts a far-less-than-perfect marriage as the years went by. It's impossible to know who to trust since we're seeing two differing stories of the relationship, and that's the best part (and the point) of Gone Girl. And in an era of deceit and 24-news coverage of crimes, opinions and allegiances are played like a game of chess.
The plot twists in Gone Girl hit a bit harder if you've never read the novel, and it's definitely not essential to have read the source material to enjoy this adaptation. It's probably better if you haven't read Gillian Flynn's phenomenon. Once the film gets going, Nick becomes a suspect--too many things are "off", and he has such a weird attitude toward possibly losing his wife. Part of the fun is deciding whether it's just the way he acts or if he's a sociopath. He has plenty of secrets of his own--but so does Amy: she disappeared on their wedding anniversary, and she has left behind a treasure hunt of sorts complete with written clues that may lead the investigators to the actual truth of what happened between this couple.
Gone Girl is far from perfect. My main complaint deals with the film's tone: Flynn adapted the script from her own novel, and it's actually a bit overwritten. There's too much dialogue, too many attempts at humor (and the film is funny at times, but I just didn't think it corresponded well with the seriousness of domestic violence and murder), too much focus on the pretty obvious satire of The Media, particularly the Nancy Grace-esque character that the film's main stars are constantly watching. And it's views on marriage are a little concerning if you're not the most cynical person in the world. If it wasn't for Fincher's skill at moving things along at a flashy and brisk pace, Gone Girl could have been the equivalent of US magazine: a sleazy, guilty-pleasure waste of time. Instead, it's something a bit more: a not-quite-trash not-quite-treasure entertaining story of one insane marriage. (B)