Bergen International Film Festival 2014: David Fincher is back with yet another adaptation of a bestselling novel. This time he brings Gone Girl author, Gillian Flynn, along to write the screenplay – and oh my, oh my, how well it works.
The success of Gillian Flynn’s third novel can’t be overlooked. She told us a story we’ve read countless times before; Husband becomes prime suspect in a missing wife-case, but with an eye for clichés, self-awareness and meta commentary, Flynn weaved together a complex and much more compelling story than one would initially imagine.
An adaptation was of course not far behind, and it was easy to look towards David Fincher when talking about a director best suited for the job. With movies like; Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac and his 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo under his belt, it’s not difficult to see similarities within their respective works. Twisted and brutally dark stories, with a pinch of equally twisted comedy, can be traced back to both Flynn and Fincher – and in Gone Girl, their combined forces seems to enhance the best in both of them.
It’s the five year marriage anniversary of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike). To the outside world they seem to be the perfect couple, and at one time this was the case. Not anymore. It doesn’t take long to understand both of them have issues and hatred built up towards the other, but neither of them wants to reveal their Good Husband and Cool Girl-relationship as a charade to the outside world.
When Nick comes home at their anniversary, he finds it empty and it seems to have been a struggle in their living room. He contacts the police to help find his wife, and detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) shows up to do so. As the case goes on however, the eyes looking on become more and more suspicious of Nick. The clues points towards him, and his own persona doesn’t do him any favours. He smiles a happy, almost smug, smile for the cameras during a press conference about the disappearance of his wife, and is a little too flirtatious with the cougars who’s ambition to help find Amy, is clearly outweighed by the ambition of getting Nick, the devastated and handsome husband.
But as the cover of the book puts it: There are two sides to every story. More than this you don’t want to know, and do yourself the favour of not looking at any trailers before you see the movie. It’s intricate, and throws a wrench in the argument of it being a cliché. The story is told through the eyes of Nick, with quite a few glimpses into the past thanks the diary of Amy – here Rosamund Pike delivers voice overs. From it’s midway point, things get even more complex – and while Fincher is no stranger to non-continuous narrative – he must be applauded for keeping it grounded and simple here. It feels almost like a dream, where different chapters and happenings blend together and mix with one another. It could easily spin out of control, jumping back and forth in time for the first half of the movie – perhaps a little more or less – and to then keep it fresh when it gets back on a continuous track.
Fincher’s ultra-slick presentation is as solid as ever. He drenches his movies in dark and moody tones, with the help of Jeff Cronenweth’s – whom collaborated with Fincher on Fight Club, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – cinematography. He uses the darkness of night as a looming blanket, wrapping around Nick and his world, only to contrast this with falling snow, illuminated and open interiors, and a color palette that could easily be compared to The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Once again he is joined by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and their past collaborations have both been so intensely strong that my initial reaction to this was disappointment. A disappointment that slowly faded away throughout the movie, and towards the end – in one particularly score heavy scene (you’ll know it when you see it) – accumulated in a delightful surprise and new found respect for how Fincher’s movies are scored. Gone Girl’s score is without a doubt much more subtle than the previous once Reznor and Ross have worked on, but silence can work just as well as loud music, especially when it works its way to a bigger and stronger sound as the movie goes on, and the tension rises.
I would be careful to compare it too much to David Fincher’s previous movies in terms of overall quality – because the end product feels very distinct – but to simply say this is more than enough with his track record: Gone Girl delivers on all the points one has come to expect from Fincher, but wether or not it does much more to improve on them is a discussion worth having when the movie premieres later this week.