The most surefire way to make me tune out a book’s pitch is to include the words “marriage” or “mother”. Which is partially why I never bothered picking up Gone Girl, the novel by Gillian Flynn released in 2012. The other is that almost as soon as I became aware of the book I found out it would be adapted for the screen starring Ben Affleck and directed by David Fincher. Fincher has been one of my favourite directors since Se7en (1995) so I knew I would be seeing the movie. Over the past five years I’ve made a concerted effort to go into the movies by my favourite filmmakers knowing as little as possible about them. I cut myself off at one trailer, if that, and never listen to any interviews. It can be really difficult, especially for a project like this that was a book for 2 years before the movie was released and many people feel that spoilers are fair game.
But I made it. I waited all the way until the second day of opening weekend and the only thing I knew going into it was that Ben Affleck shows his penis.
If you don’t know anything about the movie and plan on seeing it I recommend you a) go to your nearest theatre immediately & b) stop reading this article until you have.
SPOILER ALERT – SPOILER ALERT – SPOILER ALERT
First off, there is a nanosecond of naked Affleck, this was no Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises in the sauna full-frontal. So let’s not get sidetracked with any Batman puns.
There is more than enough Ben in this movie. I don’t know why I am always so surprised by how good he is, but Ben always delivers. He has since the days of Dazed & Confused, Chasing Amy, Dogma, the list goes on and on. Even in some of the flops in his career he always stood out. When he’s funny it’s like you’re personally in on the joke, when he’s in Boston it’s your favourite city, when he’s a sports fan you want to root for his team (Go Red Sox!), when he’s dark you want to help him. So why is it when everyone thinks of “best actors” they think of DiCaprio or Damon but not Affleck?
Nick Dunne had me from the word Go. Or in this case Margo, Nick’s twin sister played excellently by Carrie Coon.
I never for a second believed that Amy was dead. Nor did I think that the idea that he was abusive and short tempered was anything but a figment of Amy’s demented set up. I’m not sure if the fact that Amy was alive was a big twist in the book, I’m sure it was meant to be in the movie, but honestly I saw it coming from the moment the cat was sitting on the bed.
There were a lot of parts of the movie that I felt were supposed to be twists that I wasn’t shocked by at all. It was clever, and it was presented in a clever way, but they were easy to spot if you were looking for them. Even though you do get the sense you know what’s going to happen you still go through the movie doubting your own instincts. You want to see the next step in Amy’s plan to see if you can find any flaws. To her credit there aren’t many. Here’s hoping she hasn’t ruined the reputation of female writers everywhere.
Kim Dickens who plays Detective Boney is the hero you really want to root for. You want her to find Amy. Every time her partner, played by Patrick Fugit, wants to lock up Nick and she insists something feels wrong you like her a little bit more. When all the male law enforcement lap up Amy’s tragic story and she keeps pushing with good questions, you are on her side. And long past the time she finds out the truth and says goodbye to Nick you still hope she comes busting in with proof from those kids in the Ozarks of Amy’s deception.
But she never does.
In the end I kept on feeling like I was waiting for the twist that never came. I suspected Amy would go to Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) if her plan didn’t work out. I even expected him to be a real class A creep. So when he took her to a stunning lake house equipped with cameras everywhere and not so subtly wanted her to change back into Amazing Amy, the psychopath red flag warnings went up. I was almost cheering for Desi to be a super villain. I wanted him to keep Amy locked up in that house, to know that she had nowhere to go and she was at his mercy. Then maybe if she had to kill him to get free she would have learned a lesson about consequences. For instance you can’t set someone up for murder in a state with the death penalty just because you’re unhappy.
Instead she bathed in the blood of a socially maladjusted man who never got over his high school girlfriend while fucking the life out of him.
Desi never had a chance. Neither did Nick.
And maybe Amy didn’t either. Overbearing parents who used their child’s failings to base a series of books on creating the perfect fictional daughter to mock their real life one. Because the rich and beautiful blonde women of the world can be just as screwed up as anyone else.
But they get away with murder.