Sometimes not knowing the source material for a movie can be advantage, which is certainly true for David Fincher’s Gone Girl, based on the book by Gillian Flynn.
Since I hadn’t read the book I was able to watch the movie without wondering how the twists and turns of this contemporary thriller would play out.
The fact that Flynn wrote the screenplay is a huge asset and seems to have helped with transition of the book from page to screen. Flynn seems to understand what makes a movie interesting, compared to a book, keeping Gone Girl thoroughly engaging.
The movie opens and closes with the same scene and in Fincher’s capable hands he changes the way it’s interpreted given everything that happens in between. It’s is an amazing feat of storytelling.
Gone Girl’s premise could easily be ripped from current headlines. A housewife (Rosamund Pike) goes missing and her husband (Ben Affleck), who appears distant and aloof on camera, soons becomes the prime suspect.
Fincher is once again aided by a capable group of technicians behind the scenes. Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth creates a muted landscape that doesn’t come across as entirely cold. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross keeps the tension at just the right level. Editor Kirk Baxter seamlessly transitions into the second half of the movie, when everything changes.
Production designer Donald Graham Burt gives each location authenticity while costume designer Trish Summerville understands how to dress each character in a way that reflects who they are.
In addition to being a compelling thriller, Gone Girl offers an interesting commentary on the media’s role in criminal investigations. The truth is often ignored in search of an angle that will keep viewers coming back for more. It’s scary how easily the media can influence how the public can perceive a person’s guilt. It makes you realize how much a person’s guilt is based on perception rather than facts. And controlling the perception of the public becomes the main goal for both the prosecution and the defense. Given the right spin, anyone can be made to look innocent or guilty.
The entire cast is exceptional, but Affleck deserves a lot of credit for capturing his character’s mix of charm and hostility. He often plays likeable characters and in this movie he is able to keep the audience at a distance without entirely alienating them.
Do yourself a favor and see this movie before somebody on social media ruins it for you.