Gone Girl - DVD Review

'from the halfway point this is a non-narrative, a never believable trawl around people who don't exist and actions that don't make sense'

Though an improvement on Gillian Flynn's much-read novel of the same name, David Fincher's Gone Girl cannot escape the fact that it is based on half of a story. Flynn's novel has a great set up - Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home one day to find his door open, a mess in the lounge and wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing - but the problem with the novel is the same here; from the halfway point this is a non-narrative, a never believable trawl around people who don't exist and actions that don't make sense. It might seem like this story has a second half, but it really doesn't, just a cobbled together concoction that allows the novel and film to conclude. It is an 'end' only in the loosest sense of the word.

There is, at least, work here from Fincher and Flynn (who wrote the screenplay) to address other parts of the source material's failings. Where, in the novel, every character is an unlikeable farce of an archetype, here at least efforts are made to engage you with characters. Amy's Margaret Thatcher-alike mother (Lisa Banes) gets the best one-liner, but she isn't the only one infused with new humour. From somewhere, Flynn finds a pretty damn impressive ability to convert her plodding novelistic prose into zingy screenplay dialogue. It's not here all of the time, but when it is, Fincher is allowed to make the film crackle and fizz.

The things that Fincher can't correct though - the second half of the film amongst them - are where Gone Girl, film version, really reveals its shallow edges. The quick two or three second bursts of scenes over the opening credits seem to focus on mid-West decay and a crumbling US economy. The fact that Nick and Amy have left New York because they have both lost jobs in the recession is again indicative of Flynn's writing; there is certainly an idea here. The problem is again that it is never followed through, in the novel nor the script, leaving Fincher nothing to work with. There might be ideas of economy and its effect on people here but they are never realised and largely abandoned by the final, schlocky third.

The two leads do deserve praise for their work, though I didn't feel Pike particularly worthy of significantly more than that which has been afforded her co-star. Both produce spiky efforts that 'get' the characters subtleties; namely that they are both deeply horrible people, managing a thin veneer that garnishes each with normality. Affleck's ability to play Nick as treating his own moments of tremendous arsery as completely normal is impressive and Pike's ice-cold maiden is effective, if familiar territory.

In the end, the fact that a poor book has made a largely poor film is clearly not the main point of surprise to take from these proceedings, but from an auteurist perspective, the direction Fincher is heading in might well be. Gone Girl follows another major league book adaptation, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I liked enough but many did not. Before that the impressive The Social Network again had recognisable source material and frankly, at inception, sounded a terrible idea. Though it ended well for all concerned, we now feel a long way from interesting takes on risqué material, like Fight Club, or new and significant twists on long-established genres (Zodiac). If Fincher's next is indeed to be the Steve Jobs film then I am afraid I may not be the first in the queue.

Gone Girl is released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday 2nd February 2015.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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