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Film review: Gone Girl

It’s taken me a week to write this review. I've started it and restarted it and started over and gave up. I had to get it perfect. I had to do it justice. Because the book was perfect. And the movie was almost perfect.

Gone Girl the novel was huge. And for good reason. When I finished it, I literally had a book hangover and needed to take a break from reading. For quite some time. I was so invested in it that when it was over, I felt empty and confused and angry and full.

The hype surrounding Gone Girl the movie has been similarly big and I had never looked forward to a movie so much in my life. After accepting their casting choices (I had already cast the entire film in my mind – but that’s a discussion for later), I eagerly waited and waited.

There was news that Gillian Flynn (the author of the novel who also wrote the screenplay for the film) had changed up the third act and gave the story a new ending. I was torn about this. I hated the ending with the fire of a thousand suns, but it annoyed me that perhaps Flynn had sold out and given into her critics to make movie goers happy. It made me respect her less.

That ‘news’ was all but a rumour, and the ending of the movie made me as equally as mad as the book. But when I say mad, I mean in a really, really good way. Whether you experience this ending via paper or screen, it gets you. It gets you good.

David Fincher's film tells a bleak story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a fairy-tale couple whose marriage has soured into resentment, hostility, and possibly murder. As Nick explains his side of the story to a pair of detectives (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) who aren't buying what he's selling, the missing Amy tells hers through voice-overs and flashbacks (her diaries from the novel).

Now, I’m compelled to suggest to those who haven’t read the book, to not. This is a hard thing for me to say because the book is SO good. But the movie is fantastic and the power of its revelations will undoubtedly be lessened by knowing them in advance. So you have to make the choice; the book or the film.

Ben Affleck played the lead role of Nick Dunne exceptionally. He was just that perfect amount of smug. The perfect amount of being completely full of it but still getting every bit of your attention.

Rosamund Pike, who plays the missing wife Amy, was an ice queen and she made me hate her as much as I hated Amy in the book. Never have I wanted someone to be strangled so badly. Push her down the stairs! Push her down the stairs!

The supporting characters rounded out the film superbly. Kim Dickens plays the lead detective role in a way that makes you think she's the only one who can find out the truth. Fugit's character is less sharp and is very much take-it-as-you-see-it. Carrie Coon plays Nick's sister Margo, and for me she was the highlight. While I had someone else in mind, she played Margo so well I felt myself waiting for her to come back on screen. I wanted her to be more involved. She cared about Nick and you felt like it was real. And I also loved how much she hated Amy.

The film is very much by the book. And Gone Girl shows that remarkable things can happen when the material and the filmmaker are well matched.

If I could give it a hundred stars I would.