Gone to the movies

Jeanette Cibelli

Whether you see it in theaters or read the novel, “Gone Girl” will shock you.

The highly anticipated film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling book was released Friday, Oct. 3. It has already earned rave reviews from “Entertainment Weekly,” “USA Today” and “Rolling Stone.” Michael Phillips of the “Chicago Tribune” has called it “a stealthy, snake-like achievement,” which would certainly be a compliment in Flynn’s eyes.

Directed by David Fincher and written by the author herself, the film remains true to jaw-dropping twists and complicated characters of the novel. The most impressive acting performance is that of Rosamund Pike, who portrays Amy Dunne, the “gone girl.”

Ben Affleck stars alongside Pike as husband Nick Dunne, the other half of a marriage that went from picture-perfect to downright resentful. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing and a whirlwind of confusion, deceit and anger ensues as the police attempt to uncover the truth. Did Nick kill his wife? Is Amy actually dead?

Carrie Coon also delivers a very believable portrayal of Margo Dunne, twin sister to Nick. In a film that treats suspense in such a cool, collected way, she satisfies the audiences by offering the understandably panicked and emotional response to each crazy turn of events. The film also features big-ticket actors Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris, starring as Nick’s funny, quick-witted defensive lawyer and Amy’s creepy and quietly obsessed ex-boyfriend, respectively.

This film is cool, understated and sleek, yet completely compelling. Lately, we have become accustomed to the wild, dramatic style that is often seen from the blockbuster-driven Hollywood, so “Gone Girl” is a welcome change. That being said, its honest scrutiny of relationships and marriage does not make it a great choice for date night.

As is the case with all novel adaptations, those who have read the book will know what’s coming next. This inevitably removes some of the intrigue and suspense from the movie-going experience, which can make it seem like some scenes are passing too slowly. If this is the case, take the time to step back from the plot to appreciate the acting and consider the way the shifting narrative of the story was handled expertly.

Flynn’s novel is largely told through the shifting perspective of Nick’s present-day experiences and Amy’s past diary entries. This sets the stage for the startling plot twists, as well as providing a backstory to explain the decline of the Dunne marriage.

In comparison, the film’s flashbacks of the light-hearted, compassionate beginnings of Nick and Amy’s romance are juxtaposed to the grim present-day scenes of Nick handling Amy’s disappearance. Though Flynn was able to weave a richer web of intricacies into the novel, the film still captivates the audience and plays some tricks of its own.

Though far from a Halloween horror flick, “Gone Girl” feels like a perfect movie for October.  Its thriller/drama genre provides just enough on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense without being terrifying, and the weather is growing colder, just like the characters. Be sure to catch “Gone Girl” before it’s, well, gone.