Friday, October 10, 2014

Film Friday: Gone Girl

Marriage woes are nothing new to a novel, but Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl puts them in an even more sinister light. When I delved into the book in early September, I knew it was going to be a dark and twisty ride, but the characters are truly some of the more despicable I've seen on the page in recent memory.

Flynn is an excellent writer and wrote with a sense of authority on how the media would cover something like the disappearance of Amy Dunne and the accusations mounting against her husband, Nick. The details are impeccable, down to Rebecca, the crime blogger looking for a career-changing interview and the police detectives. Several of the side characters are genuinely likable, particularly Go and Tanner Bolt, Nick's sister and defense lawyer, respectively. Between the lead characters and Go, she is easily the sanest of the three and has dialogue reflective of what the reader would think or ask during situations.

One of the biggest problems I had with the book was that I never bought the characters truly ever loving each other. All of their interactions seemed to be skin-deep or making some funny and snide comment about a party crowd or society in general. Every married couple I know has some deep connection, whether it be through religion, shared interests, similar lifestyles, etc. I never saw that in Nick and Amy. As the book progressed, my predominant thought usually bounced back and forth between "These two should have never gotten together" and "These guys actually liked each other enough to marry?"

Overall, I thought the book was good, but not the rave that many critics viewed it as when the novel debuted in 2012 (just look on the paperback's back cover for the effusive praise). Again, as was the case with The Fault in Our Stars and The Emerald Mile, perhaps I came in with unrealistic expectations. I'd rate it 2.5/5 stars.

The movie is very well-made, a testament to director David Fincher and Flynn's screenplay. The dialogue is just as sharp as in the book and the characters are a bit more believable, especially the two leads. During the movie, there was never any point when I thought, "That would never happen" or "That's completely not from the book." In other words, the novel's adaptation nipped and tucked at sections of the book, rather than a full-scale amputation of key parts. I thought the movie also tried to make the connection between Amy and Nick pre-marriage stronger. I fully expect the movie to be in the Oscar conversation, especially Rosamund Pike as the missing wife, Fincher as director and for Flynn's screenplay. I do think it can get into the Best Picture race nearly on the strength of Fincher, Affleck and Pike alone, but I doubt it'll take home the trophy. I'd rate it 4/5 stars.

*Be advised, the rest of the review contains spoilers, so consider yourself warned.*

Despite the great twist of Amy framing Nick and her expressing how she would frame him for her disappearance and murder, the novel lost steam for me when Amy was robbed at the backwoods motel. Once that happened, I thought for sure she was going to head back to her husband, but since that happens three-quarters of the way through the book, the rest of it felt like going through the proverbial motions to get to the ending. I did not expect Desi to meet the horrible death of getting his throat sliced that he does (in the movie, it is a very gross and horrible death, whereas the book is less graphic in its description). Frankly, I much preferred the novel's way of handling it and that scene was a detractor for me in the film. Also, Rebecca and Betsy Bolt, Tanner's wife, were cut entirely from the movie. It would have been nice to see Betsy on screen to act as a contrast to Nick and Amy's shattered relationship. However, Tanner's classic line at the end of the book was directly transferred to the screen and got an uproarious laugh during the screening I went to.

Did you read and or see Gone Girl? What did you think?

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