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Gone Girl

Don't worry, details are purposely vague to be spoiler free.

No question, this was the most anticipated movie of the year for me. Not just of the year, but for recent memory. I read Gillian Flynn's book back when it was released a few years ago. I'd previously read her debut novel Sharp Objects and really liked it. I remember being drawn to it. It'd been a while since I read something that I hadn't seen the movie or was already familiar with the author and/or series. The shiny picture of the razor blade grabbed my attention, and the endorsement from Stephen King on the cover sold me. When Gone Girl came out, it took over pop culture. It was particularly all over Entertainment Weekly, which I read um weekly, mostly because Flynn used to be a writer there. I loved the book so much. It was one of the most disturbing things I'd ever come across, which is really saying something. As is often the case when I read, I tore thru it so fast (especially when approaching the end) that much of it is a blur.

For the movie, expectations could not possibly have been any higher. I was already excited to hear it was in the works, but finding out David Fincher was directing increased that exponentially. He's a favorite because A) he's such an incredibly smart and genius director and 2) most of his films are deliciously dark and subversive, exactly how I like them and perfect for this. More news started coming out. Ben Affleck was cast. Despite some career mistakes he's made, he's redeemed himself of late, and he really is a good actor. Fincher later said part of why Affleck was cast was his history with paparazzi and the tabloid spotlight (mostly from his Bennifer days), which is perfect experience to draw for Nick Dunne. That little known Rosamund Pike beat out some pretty big starlet names (including producer Reese Witherspoon) for Amy was a bit of a shock, but an intriguing one at that. And it's exactly that mystery around her that's fitting for the character. As more and more details emerged, all I could do was wait.

Now, could the film possibly live up to these impossibly high expectations? Surprisingly yes. Wait, let's make that sound a bit more exciting. Yes! In most cases, when I see a movie based on a book that I have read, there's two possibilities. It either feels dry or deviant. It sticks too closely to the source and/or stays with it in a very high level (pretty much all I'm likely to remember) or it's so different that it feels like its not related to the book. Going into Gone Girl, I remembered a lot of the high level stuff, but the details I'd forgotten about came to life in front of me. It all flooded back watching the film unfold.

Real quick recap. The story is about Nick and Amy. On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears. The plot flip flops between Nick and the investigation and Amy's diary entries recounting their relationship. Over time, you see how completely contradictory their stories are. The overall themes are about how you never really know how well you know someone, even if you're married to them. After five years, these two have such different views of what their marriage is, and that's where a lot of the real scare comes from. Not from the suspense of the disappearance, but from the possibility of not knowing the person you're living with.

Not a big surprise that the film stuck close to the book, seeing as how Flynn write the screenplay herself. I was particularly impressed with the pacing of the first act, which revolves around the mystery of whether or not Nick is involved in his wife's disappearance. Suspicions and doubts ebbed and flowed exactly the same way I remember feeling them before. Now of course I won't spoil the ending, but there was some controversy about how Flynn supposedly threw out the third act and rewrote it. That's the section I remember least from the book, but it did hit on the few points I did recall, and I remember feeling slight dissatisfaction with the end of the book. With the movie, I wasn't dissatisfied with how it ended story wise, I just didn't like that they took a note from LOTR and gave it a bunch of false endings on the way to the final conclusion. But I can forgive that. Especially since the screenplay picks up bonus points for some really twisted dark humor. I don't specifically recall that from the book, but it was laced throughout the script. Uncomfortably funny moments that set you off balance. So good.

Affleck and Pike delivered exactly what I expected of them. This seriously has to be among Ben's career best performances. There's a lot of complexity behind that character, and he nailed every nuance. Even more complex is Amy and Pike was stunning. My favorite character in the book was Nick's twin sister Margo, portrayed on screen by Carrie Coon. Still my favorite. But the really fun one to watch was Neil Patrick Harris, in an uncharacteristically understated and creepy role. Very much skeeved out, but in that same twisted way that I love everything else about this story. Others worth keeping an eye out for: Kim Dickens, Tyler Perry, Patrick Fugit, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Sela Ward, and Casey Wilson. For any fellow 90's enhtusists, keep an eye out for Lee Norris. You'll remember him as Minkus from Boy Meets World. That was a trip. Seriously Fincher can clearly get any actor he wants.

Oh and speaking of Fincher collaborations, he brought back his buddy Trent "Nine Inch Nails" Reznor to do the score again. Absolutely haunting perfection.

Fun fact: Fincher really wanted Affleck to wear a Yankees hat for one scene. Boston Boy Ben flatly refused. You'll see him wear a Mets hat instead.

I went to see this with a couple of friends who'd "reserved" this movie with me like two months in advance. I gotta say, given the film's idea of marriage and the themes it plays with there, kind of awkward sitting in between a newlywed couple, but damn there were some fun conversations over Corona margaritas afterwards. We fawned over Fincher and his achievements, hypothesized what would happen if the story picked up in the future, went over book vs film, and basically just basked in the glow of an awesome film. For the record, they didn't know each others blood types either.

Gone Girl - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
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