Adapted from Gillian Flynn’s best-selling suspense novel, Gone Girl is a film sealed with dramatic intensity and highly intellectual storytelling. Its manner of plot development is highly intricate and always has a sense of morbidity lying underneath. Every plot twist is so well crafted that it is never seen coming. That is, of course, unless you’ve read the novel. Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay herself and has made few changes to the big-screen adaptation, so fans of the novel won’t be surprised by the story. However, they will undoubtedly enjoy watching this mind-consuming and grisly tale come to life.
Directed by the iconic David Fincher, one can already expect broodingly dark undertones and gorgeously vivid cinematography. He has a taste for grim tales about death or deception, such as Se7en and The Game, and this extends to the book adaptations he’s directed: Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Zodiac. Being the well-seasoned director that he is, it was inevitable for Gone Girl to be anything but gripping and cinematically exquisite both at once.
Discussing Gone Girl feels like having to slowly peel a story apart without taking too much away. Even events that must be mentioned feel like spoilers in-and-of-themselves, and as any reader, you’re only getting about half the story unless you’ve already seen the film. At any rate, Gone Girl is a fast-paced thriller that keeps you glued from the start and also manages to make a statement on gender roles, marriage, and psychological instability, all underlying the complexity and psychopathy of the tale.
We first meet Nick Dunne on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary. He starts his day off by going to a bar and drinking with the bartender, whom we soon learn is his twin sister, Margo, and the two co-own the bar—named The Bar. Oh, the meta-originality. Nick seems tense but keeps a mundane composure around his sister. He then receives a phone call from a neighbor warning him of an occurrence at Nick’s home. He rushes home to find the door open—with his cat sitting patiently outside—and enters cautiously, calling out for his wife, Amy. She is nowhere to be found.
Nick soon enters the living room in which a glass table is overturned and broken, alarming him as he immediately calls the cops. He cooperates with them as they arrive and is truthful about his morning and the events leading up to Amy’s disappearance. After an interrogation in which he reveals that his wife has no friends and is a distant person, he advises her family of her disappearance. Vigils are held with large posters claiming “MISSING” in boldface, with a smiling Amy underneath along with a hotline number. It is not long before the media becomes engrossed in the case, with one female news anchor in particular bashes Nick for his apathetic looks at the vigils, implying he is careless about Amy’s disappearance and may have well murdered her.
It is now important to discuss two details regarding the film. Firstly, as a tradition, Amy would leave three clues for Nick to find his gift on their anniversary—a treasure hunt. For investigative purposes, the police follow Nick through the treasure hunt to retrace Amy’s steps before the attack took place. A riddle has to be solved at each location, where there are clues on clearly marked envelopes: Clue 1. Clue 2. Clue 3. The second aspect of the film is that it is told in two narratives. We follow Nick and the chaos that ensues from his inner demons as the media swoops in and tears him apart. However, from the start, we are also following Amy’s recollection of her marriage to Nick in the form of a diary. We see her retell everything from the day they met, to their marriage troubles, to her eventual fear of Nick harming her. The cops, of course, find this diary as evidence.
And alas, this is as much as I can give you of Gone Girl. At the end of it all, it is a stunning film that has easily made my top-5 list of 2014 favorites. There is never a shot wasted with its darkly beautiful scenery, and every detail is presented before you and knows exactly where it is taking you. Gone Girl is a disturbing yet effective film as a social commentary on commitment and how far we are willing to stretch our morals.