“Amy is ten times crazier in the book.” It was a sentence I said to everyone I knew who’d seen Gone Girl and hadn’t read Gillian Flynn’s original novel. I told friends, coworkers, my movie-viewing partner. I felt it needed to be said, since Rosamund Pike’s icy, measured, sociopathic Amy was already pretty far-gone, mentally speaking.
Gone Girl, David Fincher’s suspense thriller based on Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel, tells the labyrinthine story of couple Nick and Amy Dunne—perfect on paper; anything but in real life. I enjoyed the book immensely, but felt moments of disconnect with Flynn’s portrayal of Amy—who, while courageously drawn, sometimes seemed just a little too crazy—and of Nick, certainly no prince himself, but nowhere near Amy’s level of madness.
Gone Girl, the film, gave us a slightly altered Nick and Amy. For time’s sake, and perhaps for believability, the script cut some of Amy’s more outrageous background stories; rendering her still undeniably nuts, but left her at a level of insanity that wasn’t too off-par with Nick’s own demons. Likely the most valiant effort of the film was leveling the playing field. Flynn adjusted her salacious saga to better reflect the hideous symbiosis that comes from two intensely screwed-up personalities finding each-other.
Affleck’s performance was admirable; he captured, behind Nick’s fury and ostensible desire for a normal life, a sick eagerness to play Amy’s games. Pike was a formidable opponent to Affleck’s Nick—she paired an understated, steady depravity with a wide-eyed need to be unconditionally adored so well it was as if you were seeing a split-screen. In fact, the entire cast drew no complaints. Kim Dickens as Detective Boney was exactly as I saw her in my mind; cynical and driven by justice simultaneously. Tyler Perry’s Tanner Bolt provided the realism and comic relief needed to lighten Fincher’s taut, tense cinematography—not to mention Trent Reznor’s grating score, perfect for the edgy, agitated mood of the film. And of course, Neil Patrick Harris as the carefully creepy Desi, turning your stomach with his light, formulaic caress of Amy’s face.
Best of all was the film’s conclusion. Perhaps this story is better told on screen; the last ten minutes of the movie reveal the darkness that lives within both spouses so acutely that the thought creeps into your mind: maybe these two do deserve each other. That unbidden notion is what Flynn should have—and perhaps wanted to— conveyed originally; her script, coupled with Fincher’s tight direction and Pike and Affleck’s exceptional performances, brought that sentiment to the forefront.
“Fuck,” I heard the woman to my left exclaim when the credits rolled.