I’ve been going around town lately telling people that I saw Gone Girl. When they ask if I liked it, I say “No.” Then they invariably ask if I’ve read the book, to which I also say “No.”
There are a few things about this interaction I want to unpack. First is my initial response. I thought the movie was fine (more or less) until the end, which completely ruined it for me. The Trent Reznor score is great, the cinematography works. This feels like a Fincher movie for the first two hours, but the end feels like some sort of farce. My biggest problem with the ending is its utter ridiculousness. I won’t go into spoilers here (see below for that), but the motivations of the characters were completely askew, and their actions did not at all fit the characters we met in Act I. There are way too many leaps Fincher wants us to make at the end. The ending felt like a bad student essay that spends too much time on exposition at the beginning and middle, but, under deadline pressure (the paper is due in a mere hour! oh no!), rushes the conclusion. I’m not usually a big stickler for realism. I don’t mind if a film makes a few leaps or delves into lala land for awhile, or becomes more surreal as the film goes on. That’s all fine. Maybe Fincher was trying to do that. It doesn’t work.
As to the book question: A lot of times I’ll say, “No, have you?” and the person will say “No,” which I find odd. Why ask if I’ve read the book if you haven’t? There are many, many novel adaptations made each year, but people don’t always ask if I’ve read the novel on which a film is based. Why this one? I really don’t know. Perhaps because the novel was tremendously popular. But I don’t recall anyone asking if I’d read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another Fincher adaptation, which I really liked. People asked if I’d seen the Swedish film from time to time, but nobody seemed interested in knowing if I’d read that novel (I had).
Strangely, although I really disliked the end of this movie, and the author, Gillian Flynn, cowrote the screenplay, I am tempted to read the novel anyway. I like the premise and I wonder how much Fincher changed for this movie.
Frankly, I expect a lot from Fincher, and Gone Girl just didn’t deliver.
I can tell you the moment the film lost me completely. It may have been slowly losing its grip before this, but the moment she arrives back in town from NPH’s house, still bloody, I was like “Nope. Done. This is officially a stupid movie.” She slits this dude’s throat, and doesn’t bother to wash herself off, but just hops in the car and drives how far? We don’t know, do we? But presumably hours, maybe? Still bloody? Didn’t anyone see her? Didn’t she have to stop for gas? S T U P I D.
Also, the thing with the shed. She tries to set hubby up with a bunch of cool toys in his twin sister’s shed, and he finds it, then gives her a clue on national TV (huh?), and she calls to tell the cops about the shed. How many days have passed between all of this is unclear to me at the moment, but it’s many. And then, when the police finally show up (how long after her phone call? Days?), the stuff is still in the shed! Why is it still there?
I haven’t even mentioned the coast vs. flyover territory dichotomy of the movie, the retrograde characterization of women, the demonization of intelligent, creative types, or the blatant classism of the film. It’s all there, and it can be argued that some of it is intentional and even ironic, but I have to tell you, that last half hour or so makes me not even want to take the film seriously enough to debate those issues.