The new film Gone Girl from director David Fincher (Fight Club and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is a spot-on film adaptation of the immensely popular novel of the same name written by Gillian Flynn, who is also the screenwriter for the film version. Gone Girl is perhaps one of the best film adaptations of a popular novel that has been made in recent memory. The film is just as spellbinding and fascinating as the 2012 novel and it is just as enjoyable for viewers who haven't read the novel as it is for those who have.
At the center of the story are Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck of Argo and The Town) and his wife, Amy Elliott Dunne (Rosamund Pike of Pride and Prejudice and Jack Reacher). The story of Nick and Amy's courtship and marriage, along with glimpses into each of their pasts, is told in much the same fashion as it is in the novel. The story begins on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary and then skips around between past events and present ones, sometimes being told from Nick's perspective and sometimes being told from Amy's. Neither Nick nor Amy ever comes across as a particularly trustworthy narrator. This storytelling technique is just as riveting in the film as it proved to be in the novel.
Amy goes missing from their home on their anniversary morning, and Nick is suspected almost immediately of being involved in her sudden disappearance. As detectives from the local police department begin to shift through the evidence left behind at their home, neighbors, family members, and talk-show hosts all weigh in on what they think happened, with most of them pointing their fingers at Nick, who proclaims his innocence while often acting distracted and aloof.
As the film goes along, viewers are given glimpses into Nick and Amy's relationship, which has been filled with a number of very high highs, as well as a number of very low lows. Theirs is a relationship that has always been full of passion and raw emotion, sometimes from love and sometimes from hate. When they first met as single New York City writers they were an intense, but natural fit for one another. As part of the fallout from the recession, however, they both lose their jobs and are essentially forced to move back to Nick's small hometown in Missouri after they also lose much of Amy's trust fund bestowed to her from her once-wealthy parents and after Nick's mom falls ill with cancer.
After this change in location and careers, their relationship suffers. Their new life in Missouri suits Nick, who opens a bar with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon of One in a Million and HBO's The Leftovers), but leaves Amy feeling like an outsider with little to do except obsess over her relationship with Nick and write in her diary, a tool that is used as part of the storytelling process.
Along with its gripping story, Gone Girl offers brilliant performances by actors and actresses who are perfectly cast for their given roles. Affleck and Pike are perfect fits for the lead roles and live up to the task of bringing these complicated characters to life with riveting performances. Kim Dickens (The Blind Side and House of Sand and Fog) stands out as Detective Rhonda Boney, as does Tyler Perry (Alex Cross and Madea's Family Reunion) as lawyer Tanner Bolt and Neil Patrick Harris (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and TV's How I Met Your Mother) as Amy's old high-school flame, Desi Collings. The film is also bolstered by a mesmerizing soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that matches the pace and sense of unease that permeates the film.
Gone Girl is a gripping story with far too many twists and surprises to divulge too much without giving away crucial parts of the film. It is a fast-paced, enjoyable film to watch that will keep viewers interested, as well as periodically horrified and amused-something difficult to pull off simultaneously.