Take a Drink: whenever someone finds a new clue.
Take a Drink: every time Nick covers the cleft in his chin.
Take a Drink: whenever your perception of a character changes.
Take a Drink: every time Ellen Abbott appears on a television screen.
Take a Drink: every time you see the robot dog.
Take a Drink: every time you see the non-robotic cat.
Take a Drink: for every jellybean Tanner Bolt throws at Nick.
Do a Shot (but don’t blink or you’ll miss it!): when you see Ben Affleck’s penis.
By: BabyRuth (A Toast) –
The Oscar season is officially ushered in this weekend with the release of the much-anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel Gone Girl.
For those that are unfamiliar with Flynn’s 2012 juggernaut, Gone Girl spent 71 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List (eight of those at #1) and has sold over two million copies. After making the decision to not, once again, be that person (who didn’t read the book), I picked up the novel last week and devoured all 415 pages in three days. It consumed me. I carried that thing everywhere I went, sneaking a page or two at every opportunity like a damn addict. Though not necessary to read before seeing the film, I highly recommend it. It’s a brilliantly written, well-crafted, mindfuck of a novel that lives up to the hype.
It was after completing the book that I understood why people were equally excited and nervous for the film. On one hand, it’s always reassuring to have the consistently deft David Fincher at the helm. Also, Flynn herself adapted the screenplay, a rare case of an author being allowed full control of what ends up on screen. Still, with such beloved source material and a strangely random cast, the end result remained a gamble. Well, the gamble has paid off. Gone Girl is royal flush.
After an unsettling prologue preparing us for what’s to come, we meet Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary. He doesn’t seem to be in a very celebratory mood as he enters the bar, named The Bar, that he owns with his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) for a way-too-early bourbon. He receives a phone call from a concerned neighbor informing him that his front door is wide open and his cat is outside. Upon returning home, he finds his living room in shambles and his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) nowhere to be found. It doesn’t take long for the detectives assigned to the case (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) to turn their attention on Nick as the prime suspect.
The missing Amy is a sort of celebrity. She’s the real-life inspiration for her parents’ bestselling children’s book series about “Amazing Amy.” In addition, she’s strikingly beautiful, the perfect face to splash all over the news. Couple that with the it’s always the husband factor and Nick’s got a media shitstorm on his hands. This is the kind of case the public and especially crime-o-tainment talking heads like
Nancy Grace Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle) go crazy for.
Nick’s suspicious behavior is the subject of much scrutiny as the clues, literally, start turning up. See, every year, Amy creates a treasure hunt in which one riddle about the couple’s life together leads to the next, finally resulting in her gift to Nick. As the clues are uncovered, we learn more about Nick and Amy’s story, told through flashbacks of the couple in happier and then not-so-happier times by Amy herself, narrating entries of her diary. It’s quickly apparent that Nick and Amy’s versions of the past do not match up. So who do we believe? What happened to Amy?
First off, yes, you can see Ben Affleck’s penis. It’s at the end, during the shower scene, and it’s very quick.
Now that that’s out of the way, raise those glasses high! Gone Girl is a rare example of a film adaptation that gets everything right.
Gillian Flynn does a fantastic job of streamlining her story into a screenplay, maintaining the novel’s dual narrative structure which keeps its audience guessing and changing opinions of the characters throughout. Everything appears on-screen just as it’s described in print. While there are some omissions and a few small changes, most actually improve upon the book.
149 minutes may seem long, but the film flies by at a brisk pace, even leaving the viewer wanting more as it fades out to the credits. Speaking of the ending, which has been extremely divisive among readers to say the least, it’s tweaked just a bit (though still ultimately the same, despite earlier rumors that Flynn rewrote a new third act) and works much better in the film version, going out with more of a bang than a fizzle.
Flynn even packs in a few nods to her readers, such as the brilliant “clean & bleed” line which is used in a different context in the film.
There are so many elements to Gone Girl – it’s a mystery, a satirical look at marriage, and a scathing commentary on our ratings-hungry tabloid media and the fickle public who feed it– all at once, and David Fincher masterfully handles each piece with meticulous attention and respect. In the hands of someone less skilled, this could have been botched into a Lifetime Movie of the Week-esque mess, but under Fincher’s direction it rises to the level of art. One scene in particular stands out in my mind, a truly over-the-top grotesque, nightmare-inducing, whopper of a scene. But the staging of it is so inventive, so disgustingly awe-inducing, it’s impossible to look away.
Fincher seems to have fun with the material. The twisty-turny plot and dark humor of the novel provide him perfect opportunities to toy with his audience, expertly mixing an unflinching sense of dread and suspense with several bitingly funny moments. I laughed more during this movie than most recent “comedies.” For this reason and the audience reaction in general, I highly recommend seeing this film in a packed theater.
Fincher brings along his usual tried and true crew once again – cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, editor Kirk Baxter, and the team of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross providing the ominous score. Again, all the pieces fit together seamlessly, creating one hell of a beautifully disturbing completed jigsaw puzzle.
Additionally, whoever is responsible for the wonderfully wacky yet inspired casting deserves an award.
This is the best Ben Affleck has ever been as an actor. Classically handsome, but distant and shifty, Affleck is so well-suited for the role of Nick Dunne one would likely wonder if the character was written with him in mind. Watching Nick’s battles with the press brings to mind a time in Affleck’s real-life past that may have very well given him the experience to draw from.
It’s a shame that the most talked about takeaways of Affleck’s involvement in this film are a barely visible dick shot and the fact that he (a diehard Boston Red Sox fan) refused to wear a Yankees cap, because he is truly excellent. At one point during the screening I attended, the audience erupted into a round of applause at the conclusion of his most showstopping scene (no, not the penis one— come on people!).
As great as Affleck is though, it’s Rosamund Pike who steals the film. Many others were reportedly considered for the no pressure-just-the-entire-film-hinges-on-you part of Amy, including Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon (who has a producing credit), Charlize Theron, and Natalie Portman, but it was the lesser-known Pike who won the role-of-a-lifetime and boy was it the right choice. I was a little worried during the first half as she seemed a bit too icy while playing the “cool girl,” but by the time the story shifts to Amy’s point of view (no spoilers), Pike steps up and delivers a knockout of a performance. This is her coming out party. Do not be surprised to hear her name mentioned this awards season.
The supporting cast is where the choices get even more interesting.
I must lead with Carrie Coon, who we’ll no doubt be seeing more of after her breakout, scene-stealing portrayal of Nick’s sister ‘Go. The character, one of the few sympathetic ones in this film, acts as a voice for the audience, often saying (in the most sharply-tongued way) exactly what we’re thinking, especially when calling Nick out on his bullshit, and Coon is wonderful. Kim Dickens is also a standout as the conflicted but always professional Detective Boney. Both are strong, positive female characters in a story often (despite being written by a woman) unfairly labeled as misogynistic. (One little rant about that- Get the hell over it already. It’s a FICTIONAL story in which pretty much everyone is a terrible person. So please, enough with the freaking think-pieces.)
Patrick Fugit, who most may remember from Almost Famous, is all grown-up now and while his Officer Gilpin doesn’t get a whole lot of lines, the few he does are zingers and his timing is spot-on.
Casey Wilson (Ass Backwards) is hilarious as poor, sweet, over dramatic neighbor Noelle. Neil Patrick Harris is effectively chilling, though one-dimensional as Amy’s ex Desi. Missi Pyle channels Nancy Grace to scary perfection. But the biggest surprise is Tyler Perry, who is downright fantastic as Tanner Bolt, a Johnny Cochran-inspired mega-lawyer.
I just wish he didn’t insist on wearing the Madea costume.
There are a couple nagging plot-holes and one character I would have liked to have seen more of , but neither gripe is big enough for me to give this film any additional beers, so…
Dark, twisted, and irresistible, Gone Girl is a winning combination of clever story-telling, impeccable film-making, and outstanding performances. Everyone involved brings their A game. Definitely make a point to see it sooner than later, especially if you’re a fan of the book (even if you hated the ending).