Gone Girl: from the page to the big screen

Gone Girl: from the page to the big screen

I know that you’re going to think I’m being contrary, but… I didn’t really like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. After all that hype, I honestly didn’t know what to expect – I even made a point of not reading the back (a trick I do when I want to just launch myself into a book). I was disappointed!

This is the blurb on the back of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:

Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Now I’m not going to give anything away to do with the plot. In short, the book had ups and downs, and some intriguing bits that unfortunately didn’t really go anywhere. As for the hype that surrounded it, what was that about? There was nothing amazingly special about it. What I did like about the writing was the in-depth look at a marriage in crisis, and what lengths people will go to in order to maintain the character they have become for their spouse.

BUT – what was with the buzz around it? There are so many great books out there. Recently I loved reading If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch and also really liked Room by Emma Donoghue, and would thoroughly recommend them. Gone Girl just felt like a chick lit book with extra swearing and violence, trying to be too clever for its own good. That said, I still went to see the film

What made me want to see the film was one thing: I was promised a different ending, which I felt was much needed, and it was a nice little outing for the Books on the Underground crowd seeing as we’d all read it of course!

First thing I have to tell you is it’s a perfect rendition of the book. Not surprising, seeing as Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay. There were of course some plot lines and details from the book that simply had to be left out – the film was long enough as it is.

While the film was dark and moody, one thing I wasn’t expecting was the humour that came through. With such dark and miserable subject matter – I don’t remember laughing at all while reading – the script managed to tease out some great black humour. At one point, the whole audience was in fits of giggles watching a woman staggering along in a real state of tragic disarray. Thinking about it now –the scene on its own – it was horrible, and quite scary! But in the context of the screenplay it just worked, and brought some light to an otherwise dark movie. There were a few parts which were genuinely and surprisingly funny, mixed in with shocking displays of violence.

The thing that saved it for me was Ben Affleck. While I’ve never before really rated him as an actor, he did an amazing job. He really was Nick Dunne, and he was strong throughout. It’s always a good sign when you forget who the actor is while you’re watching. For me, it was a shame that they cast the annoying guy from How I Met Your Mother as Amy’s weird ex-boyfriend.

In brief, I didn’t enjoy the over-dominant soundtrack and the strange way the flashbacks were shown, but I really enjoyed the dark humour, Affleck’s performance and the general ‘spookiness’ and tension of the film – even if it didn’t really go anywhere.

Oh and the end is the same as the book! Not sure where that rumour came from… the cynic in me says it may just have been the film company themselves, making sure people who had read the book made the effort to see the film. That’s the only reason I went!

All in all, I would give the book 2.5/5 and the film 3.5/5. Don’t bother reading the book if you haven’t already – just go and see the film. It’s a good enough story and Ben Affleck really does star.

In case you haven’t seen the creepy trailer for the film, here you are:

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