The Boy That Should Have Really Gone.
I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn a year ago and was utterly gripped. It’s a rare thing to become totally submerged under the pen-wielding thumb of the writer in a novel, but Flynn’s book had that John Fowles kind of narrative viewpoint – restricted to the point at which you can’t trust anyone.
I read it at break-neck speed (an all-too relevant choice of words there) and couldn’t wait to tell someone about it – the trope of every good read. The story follows a husband and wife who are both disastrous and perfect together. In a nutshell, Amy fakes her own murder after discovering Nick’s infidelity (among other things) and sets it up to look as though he is the murderer. This revelation however, isn’t conveyed until about half way through. You spend the first half thinking the arrogant, lazy; careless Nick is the killer and the second half witnessing the extent of Amy’s psychotic intensions.
The way Flynn manipulated my reading of both characters was masterfully slick and unpredictable. I somehow admired, sympathised and despised both characters. So, when they announced that David Fincher would be directing the film version of the bestseller, I was filled with anticipation for how the story would work blown up on the big screen. How would they reveal the major twist? When would they expose the reality of Amy’s character, and would it be as much of a shock to people who knew nothing about the story?
The opening scene started exactly like the book. We observed an image of Amy’s head, accompanied by eerie nursery rhyme music and I was hooked, sold. This depiction summed up the notions of the body explored in the novel. Her skull is contemplated as a sphere of crushable bone, as Nick notes, which plays against the interior thoughts that we are shut out from. Fincher, like Flynn, had me from the get-go.
There were moments of genius that illustrated Fincher really understood the novel. A part that particularly stands out clearest is when it cuts instantly from a shot of Amy and Nick kissing in a sugar mist (something that I don’t actually remember happening in the novel, but still a nice, sickly, touch) to Nick having a mouth swab carried out for a DNA test. This not only epitomized the jarring of romance and violation in the book but also evoked the duplicitous nature to the whole story itself. The entire film, in fact, although long and noticeably so, worked at creating a thorough and intense build up to the horrific climax.
Rosamund Pike writhing around in underwear and satin sheets, drenched in the blood of the man she has killed, is an image that will stay with me forever. It’s up there with The Red Wedding. Pike was incredible at playing both the sweet, innocent Amy that everyone admired and also the bitter psychotic Amy, mastermind behind the scheme to frame Nick for her “murder”. I could have watched a whole film about Amy and be both mesmerized and horrified.
On the other hand, if anyone should have ‘gone’ and never returned, it should have been Ben Affleck. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Affleck was good at playing the laidback Nick, complete with droopy-eyed nonchalance and general lack of motivation. But Nick was also supposed to be a character that you despised, loathed even, in the first half of the story. He’d been having an affair with a student, he stood up at a press conference about his “presumed dead” wife and smirked and all I should have wanted to do was leap through the screen and force the police to arrest him sooner, but I didn’t. Instead, I sat there and wasn’t sure if I cared. His arrogance should have been palpable but, for some reason, I didn’t hate him, as I should have.
Besides the portrayal of Nick, the rest of Gone Girl was brilliant. I was absorbed in the plot, bewitched by the action and I will never look at the neck of a wine bottle in the same way ever again…