Gone Girl, one of the most anticipated films of 2014, is finally making its debut in theaters following what felt like years of hype. And thankfully, the movie about a woman who’s gone missing and the husband left to chase after her ghost lives up to every hyperbolic statement that has been said ahead of its release. David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel has ignited a firestorm of media frenzy, and with reason: It’s easily one of the best films of the year. With that said, everyone wants to know: Should I read this book before it comes out? How does it translate on screen? Ben Affleck?? Yes, the answer to all of those questions is yes. We’ll explain by breaking down the film into five handy talking points.
You don’t need to read the book to appreciate the film
Let’s just start with this — although spoilery — it’s hard to talk about this film without addressing the polarizing book. As someone who finished the novel only 48 hours before seeing the theatrical version, I will argue no. While watching the film, which craves every twist and turn, I found myself second-guessing the evidence rather than wondering what was going to happen next. “What about clue number 4?” “That’s where they found the club?” “But wait, what about the ottoman that was such a big deal in the book?” All those questions are pointless and a distraction from completely immersing yourself in this scary dissolution of a marriage.
Things are streamlined, making the story work more on film rather than in a book — where there’s room to breathe and over-think the tiniest of details. What happens on screen is a snappy, less-Law and Order referential version of the novel. Trust me: It’s a good thing.
It’s funny — like really, really “laugh out loud” funny
While the book is also snappy and referential, it’s never really funny. Sure, a story about a broken marriage and a missing woman is not ripe for laughter, but there was never an opportunity to relieve all that tension — especially considering how dark the story can get. What happens on screen is a wonderfully twisted narrative that allows fans to snicker and gasp at what’s unfolding in theaters. The comedic timing is effectively used to let go of some of the graphic drama while sucking fans in to the demented nature of Rosamund Pike’s character, Amy Elliott Dunne.
Rosamund Pike is going to be a star
The film is broken up into three parts, the first being the journey of Nick Dunne (Affleck) immediately following the disappearance of his wife. But it’s what happens later is the backstory that allows Pike to shine. The actress embodies the conflicted nature of a disillusioned wife trying to piece together her failing marriage. At times she’s chilling, scary, even haunting — with her porcelain skin and severe blonde bob — and then she’s warm, inviting, and drawing you in, making you unaware that there was ever a problem in the first place.
Hear what Pike’s co-star Carrie Coon has to say about her performance.
No detail goes unnoticed, especially with the co-stars
It’s easy to put a lot of collateral in the film’s two stars, Affleck and Pike. They are, after all, the unhappy couple at the center of the story. Yet, Fincher relishes the moments that don’t involve either actor. He lets the supporting cast fill the voids with outlandish moments (a pregnant, yet brilliantly dumb Casey Wilson), superb acting (the always reliable Kim Dickens and Carrie Coon), and subtle surprises (both Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris make the most of their would-be miscast parts). Without these actors, the story would never fully feel alive. Because as great as the two lead actors are, their characters are horribly unlikable.
Pay attention to the music
That chilling, spa-like music with a minor undertone of terror you’re hearing is brought to you by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor. The duo was responsible for the Oscar-winning score for The Social Network (also directed by Fincher). In this film, they find just the right creepy chords that contrast so starkly with Pike’s beautiful face. It’s hard to appreciate the music without seeing the film but if you’re curious, you can stream it now.
Gone Girl opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, Oct. 3.
[Photos: Twentieth Century Fox]