Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn
Screenplay & Novel

David Fincher

Film Review
Gone Girl:Sum is Greater than its Missing Parts


Given David Fincher’s rewarding predilection for books on dark and disturbing themes (Zodiac, Fight Club and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) Gone Girl was perhaps an obvious pick for him. Written by Gillian Flynn and one of the most recommended books this year, Gone Girl looks under the hood of relationships, examining how masquerading emotions and media trials can cover the absence of genuine human connection. It cheerfully jumbles up the narrative syntax, throwing together past perfect with future tense; oscillating between a fairytale romance seven years back (seen through her perspective) and the chaotic present (from his perspective) of a marriage slowly unravelling.

The thrill in the story is all about the twists, so I’ll get into the details sparingly. Nick Dunne, a Missouri (sort of small-town, mid-west) boy finds his wife, Amy missing on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. All evidence points to Nick, whose unemotional responses only strengthen public opinion against him. Is he guilty? who killed his wife? and why? forms the core of the story.

Like the book, the movie builds at a steady pace, throws in twists just as neatly and catches you off-guard in some beautifully crafted scenes. Adapted to screen by the writer herself, it is hardly surprising to find the screenplay so loyal to the book, albeit some minor details. Flynn has deftly edited out characters, situations and what appeared to be key conversations in the book to produce a well-paced and focused screenplay: it is a whodunit above all else. But all that clever editing makes the resolution feel rushed. The ending had always been a bit of a sore point with me, but the book had the space and time to (rather heavily) justify it. The film with its economical exposition starves the character’s actions of adequate logic leaving one mildly frustrated. And yet the film, like the book, stocks up enough good Karma with its delicious surprises and never-seen-before protagonists to make you want to recommend it to others, nonetheless.

Cast wise, Rosamund Pike is as perfect as Amazing Amy (the fictional character Amy’s parents create to passive-aggressively express their disappointment in her choices) is in her warped world. Ben Affleck’s Nick is too much of a nice guy to bring out the grey shades of his character. Perhaps his casting is why the film felt just a wee bit misogynistic. Female characters are defined as good or bad by how supportive they are of the men in their lives. The strength of Amy’s narrative in the book version provided the much-needed balance, which the film failed to bring out.

It wouldn’t have been hard to pick this as a David Fincher film even if you had lived under a rock these past several months. The colour pallet, the editing, everything will remind you of one or all his films. Gone Girl gains from these touches making it a dark thriller laced with a commentary on marriage, than a dark commentary on marriage in the guise of a thriller, which is what I felt the book had been.

It is every writer’s dream to be able to write a story that would have one go: Who is she? Who is he? What have they done? What will they do now? And Gone Girl achieves that, literally, from the first scene to the very last.

   Priya Venkataraman

Priya Venkataraman is a struggling cat trainer, amateur dream interpreter and full time scriptwriter living in Mumbai. In a past life she worked as a scribe for Deccan Herald and reviewed new releases for them..

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