When his wife goes missing, a husband falls under suspicion of murder.
Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl was one of those books a couple of years back. You know the ones - there was a copy peeking out of every purse, their numbers legion on trains and planes and book clubs. For that very reason (because I'm contrary) I avoided picking up a copy in 2012.
As in many things, I was wrong. Gone Girl is a cracking read, full of wit and possessed of a much darker edge than I had ever imagined, not to mention a plethora of enjoyable twists right up to a righteously unlikely finale. Perfect movie fodder then and so it proves to be a highly entertaining feature.
Isn't it kind of a shame though that its made by David Fincher. Oncea director of real audacity (Seven, Fight Club) or at least consummate style (Panic Room) he now seems to be the go-to guy for adaptations of properly grown up books. Dragon Tattoo was a stolid mess and don't get me started on Benjamin Button.
So I miss the old David Fincher, that's a given but it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with Gone Girl from a technical point of view. Everything looks marvellous (thanks to Jeff Cronenweth) and it all flows in a very agreeable way (thanks to editor Kirk Baxter) but there's a deficit of personality to it at times.
Thankfully the script and characters make up for that, mainly by being cartoonish to the point of silliness, particularly Rosamunde Pike's Amy. But that's the point - the story may start out as something of an examination of marriage and relationships and honesty but the second half flips into nutty territory and never looks back.
Which is totally fine, as otherwise the 149 minute running time would quickly wear you down. As it stand there are at least three movies going on here, including the lengthy coda which stretches incredulity even more, but most of the beats are enjoyable and carried off by a set of main and supporting players who are fun to watch. Even Ben Affleck, and that's saying something.
Talking about the story too much would defeat the purpose of the exercise but suffice to say it's almost a beat for beat recreation of the book. Suggestions that the ending has been markedly changed have been wildly exaggerated and any excised material seems to have just been for pace. And it still remains somewhat languid in parts.
Ultimately, the only real downsides are the presentation. There's just no flair to Gone Girl, nothing which makes any use of the big screen - bar one shocking moment of violence where you see a glimpse of familiar Fincher magic. Otherwise, this could easily have been a TV show or a glossy mini series.
Surprisingly funny and enjoyably twisted, Gone Girl is a very accurate adaptation of the book with decent performances and very screwed up things to say about marriage. Definitely worth checking out.