David Fincher’s Gone Girl, adapted from the popular novel by Gillian Flynn, is one of the most anticipated films of 2014. With reports on potential plot changes and wild reactions to the film’s casting, fans have been following production from the start. But is the final product worthy of the hype?
Because we can’t wait until the official release date, and there are too many book-to-movie adaptations flooding the box office this fall, let’s break down what we’ve learned from the first official reviews. Spoilers ahead (duh).
The Film’s Ending Does Not Stray from the Book
Yay? Flynn adapted her 2012 novel for the film and stayed extremely close to the book. While early reports claimed that the lackluster ending your book club has been griping about for two years could be getting a big screen makeover come October, The Hollywood Reporter says don’t hold your breath: “Despite published reports that major plot changes were being made, particularly in the third act, this simply isn’t true; it’s an extremely faithful adaptation of what is ultimately a withering critique of the dynamics of marriage.”
Don’t Be Nervous About Ben Affleck as Nick
There was a strong reaction when news hit that the two-time Oscar winner would portray the book’s suspicious/potentially murderous husband in the film adaptation. (However not as strong as the reaction to the news he’d be playing Batman.) Despite a few bad spray tans, New York film critic David Edelstein makes us wonder why we ever worried in the first place: “I never thought I’d write these words, but [Affleck] carries the movie. He’s terrific. Fincher exploits—and helps him transcend—his most common failing, a certain handsome-lug lack of commitment. Affleck shows intelligence and sensitivity in interviews, and I sense that as he has gotten older (and become a slick director), he has worked harder to look serious, sincere, and engaged onscreen.”
From Variety: “Often unfairly criticized early in his career for seeming smug, vain and inauthentic onscreen, Affleck is uniquely suited to the role of a man facing those very charges from a fickle and demanding public; it’s a tricky turn, requiring a measure of careful underplaying and emotional aloofness, and he nails it completely.”
Start Preparing for Rosamund Pike’s Oscar Campaign Now
It’s never too early to talk about award season. While Reese Witherspoon, Amy Adams, and Julianne Moore have all received early praise for their work this year, the lesser known Pike is about to rain on their parade come March. “Pike, who has been notable in several roles over the past dozen years (Pride & Prejudice, Jack Reacher) but has rarely played full-blown leads, is powerful and commanding,” says THR. “Physically and emotionally, Pike looks to have immersed herself in this profoundly calculating character, and the results are impressive.” Variety agrees:
Yet as evidenced by her years of solid supporting work, she also possesses the sort of ferocious charisma that magnetizes the screen, and it’s a thrill to watch her fully embrace the showiest, most substantial role of her career. Hers is the low, seductive voice we hear coaxing us through the story’s early passages, and hers is the character who ultimately exhibits the most dynamic range: In any given scene, her Amy can seem vulnerable, aggrieved, calculating, heroic, overmatched, viperous and terrifying.
Fincher Is Being Called a Modern Day Hitchcock
Adapting buzzworthy novels for the big screen is familiar work for Fincher, after taking on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011 (and even adaptations like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network). He’s also no stranger to dark material, and knows how to make uncomfortable subject matter visually romantic and enthralling rather than terrifying — like another guy you may be familiar with. Per The Wrap:
The best Hitchcock films struck a balance between elegance and violence, a peculiar mix of champagne fizz and spilled crimson blood; “Gone Girl,” with its giddy revelations and grim-grin reversals incorporating ugly facts and uglier fictions, fits perfectly into a modernized version of that superb tradition.
Missi Pyle Slays as a Wannabe Nancy Grace
A key theme throughout the the novel and the film is the idea of perception, and whether one should believe so easily. When Amy’s disappearance becomes national news, a sensationalist TV host grabs hold and doesn’t look back. Pyle, an actress who’s mainly been featured in supporting roles, shines in what Edelstein calls a “satisfyingly scathing turn” as “a ghoulish specialist in raising media lynch mobs,” similar to one cable news queen we all know and can’t bare to look away from.
Gone Girl will premiere at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 26 and opens in theaters on Oct. 3.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]