The Coincidental Critic

Exploring the art of storytelling.

Gone Girl: A Film (SPOILERS)


I loved the way “Gone Girl” opened with Ben Affleck reciting the ominous opening lines of the book.  We watched as his hand stroked Amy’s “finely shaped” head.  And then, Amy looked up.  Since I already knew the mid-plot twist, this scene sent a shiver down my spine.

After this opening scene, images and clips of the town flashed on the screen as the opening credits rolled in.  We got a glimpse of the sights and sounds of this Missouri town.  Immediately, the creative team provided us with an introduction to the setting of the film.

Ben Affleck and Carrie Coon had amazing chemistry when portraying Nick and Go Dunne.  Their interactions were natural and emotional.  I could sense that close sibling connection between the two of them.

My favorite character in the film version of “Gone Girl” was Detective Boney.  She was powerful, determined, and skeptical.  She didn’t give in to rumors and just did what she needed to do for her job, what was right.  She was the lead detective on the case.  In the book, Boney and Gilpin were partners, or at least that’s how it came across.  They shared equal responsibility in solving the case.  In the film, Boney was the sole detective.  I’m sure this was done to help trim down the story by having fewer prominent characters.  But it also made her character more important in my eyes.  Also, because of this adjustment, Gilpin became more of a sidekick figure who provided some humor to the film.

The film version of “Gone Girl” was very close to the book.  Author, Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay, so she was able to keep the same key plot points and themes from her book.  I loved how Flynn incorporated actual lines from the book.  “Gone Girl” might be the closest book-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen.  Flynn did have to make a few adjustments to the story to trim it down into the two and a half hour slot.  But each adjustment was perfectly done and actually made the story flow more smoothly than in the book.  For example, there were fewer clues in the anniversary treasure hunt which kept the story close to home, literally and figuratively.  In the mall scene, the cops went to the mall and found out about the gun, not Nick.  When Nick went to his father’s house, the cops showed up; this progressed the story forward more quickly.  Also, Nick met with Desi only after discovering that Amy framed him, not beforehand.  And Desi’s mother did not make an appearance in the film.  All these changes helped to make the story move faster and made it easier to follow.  Amazing work done by Flynn in translating her written story into this visual medium.

Amy’s parents creeped me out far more in the film than in the book.  In the book, I thought they were a bit strange, but that Amy overreacted.  In the film, I understood Amy’s torment.  I think this is because I’m a visual person.  And actually seeing Amy parents’ book celebration decorated with posters of a cartoon figure with eerie resemblance to their daughter was far worse than how I imagined it in my head.  It took the film to make me realize how messed up Amy’s parents were.

While the ending of the film wasn’t much different from that of the book, I left the film feeling differently.  After I finished the book, I was angry and scared because these two crazy characters were still together and producing children.  In contrast, I left the film pitying Nick and with the slightest bit of hope that he might escape Amy.  In the film, Nick didn’t come across as crazy; instead he came across as abused.  Nick was likable, and I sympathized with him.  This change in my view of Nick was all to do with the transition from book to film.  The film lacked Nick’s unreliable inner monologue.  Also most of the descriptions and details that made Nick’s character suspicious, such as him admitting to lying directly to the cops and him attempting to kill Amy at the end, were excluded from the film.  The “Gone Girl” film ended with Nick announcing Amy’s pregnancy on national television.  Nick then looked at the camera, awkwardly grinning with uncertainty.  And I thought, “will Nick actually stand up for himself and leave Amy?”

When reading Amy’s diary entries in the book, I believed that Nick and Amy were truly in love during the beginning of their relationship.  I fell for “Cool Amy” and was completely betrayed by real Amy.  In the film, I was less convinced that Nick and Amy ever really loved each other.  Amy appeared fake to me.  Her speech was too perfect- her voice monotonous and pronunciation articulate.  Her dialogue sounded rehearsed.  She just seemed too calm, cool, and collective.  I might have taken note of all this because I already knew the ending, but I’m curious as to what virgins of “Gone Girl” thought of Amy and Nick’s relationship.  Were they tricked by Amy just like I was with my first encounter with “Gone Girl?”

Mimicking the book’s chapter headers, the film had captions to signify the date and the “time gone.”  It actually took me awhile to notice these captions- I was already a few scenes in.  And that was because the print was very small and in the lower left corner of the screen.  The text was there for only a short period of time.  So, by the time I finished reading the caption, it disappeared.  I felt like I was racing against the clock.  These captions should have been more noticeable either by different placement or larger font.  And they needed to stay on the screen longer so everyone had enough time to read the text and understand it.  These captions are necessary and important because they provide context to the pacing of the story and should have been presented better.

The transitions between Nick and Amy’s story were too choppy.  Suddenly, a scene would end in the middle of an action or in the middle of a melody in the score, and then transition to the other character’s story.  This confused me, and I didn’t understand why it was so choppy.  This choice by director David Fincher did not make sense to me.  Every choice made by the director should have a reasoning behind it, and I could not figure out a reason for this type of transitioning.

I was not impressed with the musical score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.  It sounded beautiful; however, it didn’t always fit the plotline.  One example was the song played when Nick and Amy were in the shower after Amy had returned.  The music was melodic and bright.  It felt out-of-place in this tense scene and was distracting.  There were a few other scenes in which the music just didn’t sync well with the rest of the elements.  Musical scores are some of my favorite parts of movies, but the score for “Gone Girl” didn’t move me, it confused me.

Did anyone else think that Nick’s father’s blue house actually did looked brown at night?  I remembered thinking, “wait, it’s not supposed to actually be brown.”  I immediately thought that Flynn had made this adjustment to make the “brown house” mentioned in Amy’s clue easier to follow by not having to explain the inside joke.  But then later in the film during a daytime scene, the house appeared blue.  I know this is a minor detail, but it could have been avoided with a few lighting changes.

Overall, I was very impressed with “Gone Girl.”  It stayed true to the book, with enough alterations to make the film stand on its own.  Any complaints I had were more specific, technical ones.  Both book fans and newcomers will appreciate the film.

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This entry was posted on November 2, 2014 by in Movie and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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