Genre: Drama – Thriller
Premise: When a man’s wife goes missing, he finds himself quickly becoming the number 1 suspect.
About: Gone Girl was a hugely popular book that sold millions of copies. The author, Gillian Flynn, sold the rights to 20th Century Fox and, soon after, the great David Fincher came on to direct. It opened this weekend at number 1 (barely holding off horror flick “Annabelle”) with 38 million dollars. Flynn wrote 1000 word blurbs about movies for Entertainment Weekly for 10 years before she found literary success. After reading Gone Girl, which gets into the minutia of a woman wanting her husband to suffer for the rest of his life, Gillian’s husband asked her if they needed to have a talk. Gillian assured him that no, everything she wrote was fiction (yeah right). Believing she had to strip everything out of the book to keep the movie lean, she found that when she gave her first draft to Fincher, he actually wanted to put a bunch of stuff back in. So the script went from lean, to beefing back up again.
Writer: Gillian Flynn
Details: Script (135 pages) Film (149 minutes!)

Gone-Girl-2014-film-poster-2

In a rare move, Gillian Flynn, author of the book, “Gone Girl,” was chosen by the studio to adapt her own work. Usually, this kind of thing doesn’t happen. Novelists are prone to writing from inside the character’s head, going on and on about details, details that work in the context of a novel, but that would cripple a typical screenplay.

For example, whereas a novelist might explain how a character is feeling before she approaches a man, a screenwriter must find a way to convey that feeling visually. So a two page inner monologue where a girl lays out her nerves in exquisite detail probably becomes a simple bobbling and dropping of her phone – a physical way to show nervousness. This is what screenwriters mean when they say, “Show, don’t tell.”

My biggest curiosity going into Gone Girl, however, was how Flynn would handle the ending. In my opinion, the ending of Gone Girl turned what should’ve been one of the best books of our generation into a great big missed opportunity. Would Fincher keep this ending or change it? He had as good of an excuse as any. Movies need to move. We don’t have time for long endings. And there were rumors that he was doing just that. So how would they change it? Would he turn a disaster climax into a classic?? I had to know!

For those who don’t know the plot to Gone Girl, it’s about Nick and Amy, a marriage that looks perfect from the outside, but on the inside is anything but. When Amy goes missing, and there are signs of struggle in Nick and Amy’s house, Nick does what any concerned husband would do. He calls the cops. But early on in the investigation, Nick realizes that he’s becoming the lead suspect. Soon the media catches on, implicating Nick as a classic sociopath killer, and Nick finds himself to be the most hated man in America. Even we start to wonder… did Nick do it?

To appreciate Gone Girl, one must first realize how it’s different. I mean we’ve seen plenty of movies with disappearing women. That’s been done before. So how do you find a new angle?

The primary difference with Gone Girl is that it shows BOTH SIDES of the story. We’re not just in Nick’s shoes. We slip inside the shoes of Amy also. Nick’s half deals with the present, and Amy explains the past. Eventually, Amy catches up to the present, and we keep the back and forth going.

This was brilliant because it upset the typical narrative everyone is used to – the one that’s easy to predict. When you walk out of movies and say, “Ehh, that was okay I guess,” it’s usually because the writer didn’t do anything fresh, give you anything different. This movie thrives off its unique structure, which keeps you guessing.

Flynn’s film is also an argument for the power of twists. There’s lots of little twists and turns here that keep you off balance. Nick secretly has a girlfriend. Amy buys a gun because she’s scared of Nick. And that famous twist at the midpoint where we find out that Amy’s been lying this whole time. Gone Girl really keeps you off guard, and so does a tremendous job of keeping you guessing.

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Then there’s the scope of the movie. I’m always fascinated by the question, “What makes an idea a movie idea?” Cause you can’t throw any old idea on the page and call it a movie. It has to be a big enough idea to be “worthy” of spending millions of dollars. Especially these days, when more and more scaled-down films are going straight to Itunes.

So what Flynn did, whether she intended for this to one day be a movie or not, is she increased the scope of the missing woman narrative. Instead of keeping it local, it becomes national. It isn’t just the people in town who are suspicious of Nick. It’s the whole damn nation! That’s what made this big enough to be a movie. How important of a choice was that?  David Fincher doesn’t make this movie if it’s contained to a single town.

Regardless of all these positives, everything comes back to that ending. While a lot of people loved the book, one only need go to Amazon and click on the “one star” reviews to see how pissed off people are about the ending.

So did they change it for the film?

Are you ready for the answer? Are you sitting down?

No, they did not. ☹

And it makes what could’ve been a classic film more of a brilliant curiosity.

So what’s the beef? What was so “wrong” about the ending? Well, in the film, the evidence piles up against Nick. Every 15 movie minutes, his situation is twice as worse as it was. It’s really looking bad for him. So we’re really eager to see how he’s going to get out of this, how he’s going to “beat” Amy. Then, just as the American public is about to lynch him…. Amy comes back! Claiming to have been held captive and abused by her crazy ex-boyfriend (which we know, from watching her, is only partly true). And just like that, Nick’s nightmare is over.

Okay, not the ending I was anticipating. But whatever. It is what it is. The End. Right?

Uhhhh, no.

Not even close to the end. We actually stay with Nick and Amy for another 20 minutes, as Amy kinda/sorta bullies Nick into staying with her. She even pretends to be pregnant (or maybe really is pregnant – we don’t know), in order to cajole Nick into sticking around forever.

This ending doesn’t work for two reasons.

The first one is that the film hung around long after the party was over. Since we’re on the topic of parties, I want you to imagine a balloon. Each time you up the ante for your character, you’re puffing up the balloon. Nick is caught cheating with a younger woman. That’s a puff. Nick is caught smiling next to his missing wife’s picture. Another puff. He’s caught taking a selfie with a “fan.” Another puff. He’s forced into hiring a lawyer, making everyone think he’s guilty. Another puff.

The great part about watching a film is watching that balloon get bigger and bigger until we can’t take it anymore! It’s too big! It has to pop! And when it does (i.e. the moment Luke destroys the Death Star), ALL THAT AIR is released. This is why, after the balloon pops, you usually get only one or two more scenes in the movie. There’s no more air left in the balloon, so the audience has no real reason to be there anymore.

The fault of Gone Girl is in popping its balloon (by Amy coming home), and then thinking we’ll want want to stick around for more. Not only are we exhausted from watching that balloon blow up for so long, but no amount of air you can blow into this new balloon is going to equal how big that other balloon got. In storytelling, you always want your story to get bigger (to BUILD). The second it goes backwards and gets smaller, you’ll find yourself an audience that’s losing interest.

On top of this, Amy showing up gets Nick out of trouble without him having to do anything. I HATE that. I think it’s the laziest kind of writing there is – handing your hero the solution. A hero should always have to EARN the solution. That’s why we watch movies, to see the hero solve the problem. I mean imagine if in Silence of the Lambs, Buffalo Bill showed up at Clarice’s desk and said, “I’m sorry for causing all this trouble. I turn myself in.” THAT’S THE EQUIVALENT OF WHAT HAPPENED IN GONE GIRL! Nick is dead in the water and…. HIS WIFE SHOWS UP AND SAVES HIM??? It’s just a really convenient choice and it shows the workings of a writer who gave up, who didn’t work hard enough to come up with something better.

Despite this, I thought Fincher did a great job with what he was given. Even with all that air leaking out of the balloon, he shot those last 20 minutes like a demented backwards fairy tale and made them so uneasy and weird that you kind of went with it. That’s why this guy is at the top of every studio’s directing list. He almost made a terrible story choice work.

And if you take away that ending, the rest of the movie was pretty awesome. Ben Affleck (despite being autistic) was well-suited for the role. Rosamund Pike was appropriately weird and scary. The female cop was good. The sister was good. Maybe the most shocking standout was Tyler Perry, who says that he’d never heard of David Fincher before this film (what???). He was so good as the all-star lawyer, I wish they would’ve found a way to give him more screen time.

So yeah, despite that ending, I still enjoyed Gone Girl. It’s a different take on a familiar subject matter, and it does most of it right. I’m curious though, for those who didn’t read the book, what did you think of the ending? Did you like it? If so, why? I knew it was coming so I was prepared for it but I want to know how it played just as a movie.

[ ] what the hell did I just watch?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the price of admission
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Everyone has their own writing routine. There is no “right” way so don’t feel bad if you’re not doing the same thing as Aaron Sorkin. For example, while a lot of writers will say that you need to be writing all the time, Flynn approaches it a little differently: “I’m a staunch believer in pottering about—I’ve had some of my best writing epiphanies when I’m doing things that have nothing to do with writing. So I may play a round of Ms. Pac-man or Galaga…” There’s nothing quite like sitting down and banging out pages, but for some writers, walking around, procrastinating, thinking of the script in an abstract sense, is the best way to go. As long as your script is in the back of your head, you never know when the next great idea for it will strike.

  • Paul Clarke

    Love the What I Learned section. Very true.

    If you want to write about real life and real people you have to get out and live. I don’t know about anyone else but by the time I sit down at the computer I’ve down all my creating and thinking, at that point it’s all about finding the right words to go on the page. Getting my mental draft down as a physical draft. I don’t know how anyone could stare at a blank computer screen and come up with ideas. I guess that’s why there are so many stories about writers. And writers with writer’s block.

    Plus getting up and getting the blood flowing always helps. I even like to write standing up where possible. But walking down to the shops or even having a shower are much better times for thinking and creating.

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      I’m procrastinating all the time. Still waiting for the “A-ha” moment…

    • mulesandmud

      I try to write in a minimum of two locations daily, preferably with a walking commute between them. The travel time in between is guaranteed to be where the best work gets done.

    • lonestarr357

      On the job, in the shower, at church…ideas come to me all the time. Excellent point.

    • Eric

      Nothing helps me figure out a scene that’s not working like getting up from the computer and acting out every possible permutation in the room, even to the extent of blocking out action if I have the space.

      The way I see it, it’s hard enough writing in a clear, flowing and engaging way without also having to figure out what it is you’re writing in the first place. That’s not to say creativity doesn’t happen on the page. There’s a lot of little details on the page that can sometimes spark ideas and changes to other scenes. But the bulk of my creative work is done away from writing

  • Shaun Snyder

    Regarding your two reasons for why the ending didn’t work…I agree with the first one. The film went on a tad too long. SPOILERS: They could have ended the movie when Nick decided to sleep in the guest room the first night. We would’ve understood the (likely) future of their relationship with that one action alone. Your second reason, however, I don’t quite agree with. First of all, I love endings that are not your typical Hollywood endings. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, (MORE SPOILERS) but didn’t Amy kill Desi and return home ultimately because of Nick’s television interview, which he went through with against the advice of his lawyer and his sister? It sounds like Nick earned the solution to me. Anyway, I loved this movie. I think it’s easily one of the best films of the year. I’m a Fincher fanboy, though, so I’m biased.

  • John Brahms

    Having Amy returning to Nick is not the “popping of the balloon”. Why? Because we know that she is a psychopath, a killer. Sure, one could make the argument that she was trying to save herself, so was it really cold-blooded murder? But nonetheless, she just slit a guy’s throat and came home covered in his blood.

    For Nick to be greeted by her like this just means that she is upping the game. She knew she had to get out of her situation and this was the only way. But that doesn’t mean she’s done. It means she has come to a new phase.

    I think them together in the shower, naked, is just perfect. These two foes are reunited in the arena, naked both physically and emotionally.

    The final, final ending seemed inconclusive. It’s not that it NEEDED to conclude, it’s just that the rhythm of the movie seemed to suggest we would always see what happens next, how Nick or Amy would react to a given situation. It seems like Nick is deep inside the web and we’re about to see how he gets out. But instead we witness him giving up and giving in to marriage, which I suppose is the ultimate and darkest takeaway from this ending.

  • BradAndCoffee

    I have to disagree with the idea that Nick did nothing to save himself.

    Major spoilers:

    He concocted a brilliant plea/story and went into a room with his worst enemy (National media) at the worst possible time (as his GF reveals herself) and executed his plan to lure Amy back… and it worked.

    And she returned with a ton of tension. She’s now a dangerous animal and Nick is stuck in her cage. He’s the rat in the snake tank, and no one on the outside realizes that she’s a snake.

    I had a completely visceral reaction to this movie — sweating in a cold theater — because of how much I wanted Amy to get caught. The final 20 minutes were the most tense of the entire movie (and entire year of movies) for me, as I desperately hoped that she’d slip and be seen for what she was. And though the moment never came, that never distracted from the movie. You can’t always get what you want in a film – it only matters that you did indeed want something. I wanted Amy to be caught. I wanted it so fucking bad I could feel it in my skin, and that feeling lasted well after the credits rolled.

  • Jake T

    I’m not so sure about Amy’s return being the big balloon pop here. It was more like ‘you were dealing with this problem, but now here’s ANOTHER problem you’re going to have to spend the rest of your life dealing with.’ Not an ideal climax, but it’s different.

    All in all, it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy the Fincher atmosphere, but I think the big problem with the film was what you mentioned in the beginning. Flynn wanted to make a lean script based on the book…Fincher wanted to make THE BOOK. Adaptations shouldn’t be direct translations. Books and films are different mediums, and should inspire one another, but not direct each other.

  • Brandon

    I liked the ending the way it was An I think it’s because I disagree with you on one point Carson. You see, Nick didn’t get off scott free. Sure his wife came back getting him out from the murder charge, and you could see how relieved bordering on thrilled he was. Now the cops would see his side, not believe amy, and the nasty truth about his psycho wife would come out, and he’d be free to leave her with no repercussions.

    But that didn’t happen. The cops now believed him but with the media and public believing amy to be a saint and the police dept being made to look a fool by arresting him wont pursue it. Not only can he not leave her now, but he’s trapped with a wife who might kill him at any moment should he slip up in public, and worse, she’s pregnant, so he now has to live a lie 24/7 for the child’s sake instead of isolating himself from her in the house.

    The final shot of nick and amy on the couch as amy is congratulated on her pregnancy all smiles while he looks into the camera with the dead eyed stare of a condemned man, you can almost see him wishing she had never come back.

    That was the whole point. The cop knows the truth but will ignore it, the lawyer laughs and doesn’t care, and his twin has been condemned to unhappiness because she won’t abandon him and he has to live knowing he is the cause of it.

    In the end, the only one who got everything they wanted, that is truly content is amy.

    That’s a hell of a way to end a movie if you ask me.

    • Cfrancis1

      Absolutely! The ending is unsettling and sad. I loved it for that. It made you leave the theatre feeling strange and kind of sad but also questioning everything. It was literally a provocative movie. How great is that?!

      • ripleyy

        It’s also a perfect representation of a broken marriage. All fake smiles. No heart.

    • Scott Strybos

      I understand Carson’s argument that Nick isn’t 100% responsible for this resolution, other than a five minute television interview. But I can’t really think of any other way to arrive at this ending other than Nick manipulating her into coming back, ie. Amy saving him.

      And Amy coming back and getting pregnant means Nick is stuck with her for the rest of his life. He can’t even kill himself because his kid would be stuck with a psychopath. This ending is so horrible and it elicits a visceral reaction in the audience. The ending is perfect.

      Does anyone want to workshop an ending where we arrive in the same place but with Nick being more active in its creation?

  • Andrea Moss

    Sorry, but for me this is nothing but a glorified Lifetime movie-of-the-week. When I was at the cinema I almost was expecting to see Harry Hamlin in the role of Nick Dunne.

    • Magga

      Harry Hamlin is on Mad Men, i.e. superior to any movie actor

  • charliesb

    Aww man, I was hoping for a review of Annabelle and some thoughts on how to take a small piece of one story and turn it into a 37 million dollar opening… ;)

    Gone Girl was good, in fact I think it was a pretty brilliant adaptation of a flawed book. The same things that I found weak in the book, were weak on screen. I think they might have been able to save that ending (book & film), if Amy hadn’t turned all Stepford wife in the end (when not in front of the cameras). If she was just as miserable as Nick but knew she had to put on the face, knew they had to stay together, knew eventually he’d stray again, and that he’d continue to sleep in the guest bedroom. That would have been a more concrete comment on marriage. I don’t think her character made a lot of sense in the end.

    And apparently Fincher liked working with Flynn, because she’s writing the entire season of Utopia.

    And agreed about Tyler Perry. He should stop making films and just act in them (preferably not in a dress).

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    Read the book, haven’t watched the movie yet.

    Regarding the ending, I was disappointed too since the rest of the story was so freaking awesome (especially at the middle of the book, where the story changes gears), but it was still a solid ending. It’s a different kind of lifetime sentence for Nick.

    So, I thought that the last 20 movie-minutes where used to show how Nick’s life becomes from now on in the jail that Amy chose to create for him. Didn’t he mange to pull that off?

  • filmklassik

    I don’t understand all the GONE GIRL love, or — gird yourself for some heresy, gang — here it comes — all the love for David Fincher, either. (I know, I know…)

    GONE GIRL the book and GONE GIRL the movie both shoot most of their wads at the mid-way point, when Amy turns up alive and skipping town. After that it is all anti-climax and batshit crazy plot contrivances (Catherine Trammell’s former would-be suiter just happens to be Norman fucking Bates?? Come ON, Gillian…)

    I love the balloon metaphor, Carson, and you’re right, the air goes out of this one at the top of the second hour.

    …And Fincher’s GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO suffered from almost the same exact problem: That story ended a good 25 minutes before the movie did.

    And ZODIAC had one of the most unsatisfying endings of the decade.

    Anyone see a pattern here?

    SEVEN notwithstanding, Fincher has an unfortunate habit of fumbling the ball within 15 or 20 yards of the end zone.

    I love that he’s making smart, straight-forward genre movies for grown-ups… and for that reason alone, I’m thrilled that GONE GIRL is doing well… but why couldn’t one of the most powerful and respected directors in town have worked a little longer to lick the ending?

    If you want to see a grown-up story about a morally ambiguous hero in a troubled marriage being accused of murder told WELL… in a way that SATISFIES the audience… and in just about two hours… then go get PRESUMED INNOCENT from Amazon or Netflix.

    That film hits all the same notes as this one, but, unlike GONE GIRL, leads up to a great and memorable crescendo.

  • brenkilco

    A hero should always have to EARN the solution.

    In general totally agree. A passive hero is bad and a deux ex machina is death. And yet, there are successful movies that break this rule. And you don’t have to go further than Fincher. In The Game the protag is driven to suicide and the sort of happy ending is the discovery that he has been manipulated ever step of the way. In Seven the villain does just what you suggested might have killed Silence of the Lambs and he totally controls the ending. In Zodiac there is no climax to speak of, no closure in genre terms. Even in Panic Room, where Jodie Foster is pretty active, her ultimate survival depends on one of the villains having a change of heart. How and why a movie can break what would seem to be a cardinal rule and still succeed is probably worth a post.

    • lonestarr357

      THE GAME…if there’s a more disingenuous happy ending to a motion picture, I haven’t seen it.

      • brenkilco

        The whole thing is a preposterous contraption, but proof, if more were needed, that an irresistible premise trumps everything.

    • mulesandmud

      When you put it like that, it becomes a full-on thematic fixation of Fincher’s: stories about people up against near omnipotent forces, unable to effect any real change. PANIC ROOM is the weakest example though; the hero’s lack of agency there seems more like a standard agency problem than an actual theme.

      Deux ex machina can be thematic, too. I was thinking of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE the other day; that entire movie intentionally builds toward the town swooping in to bail out George Bailey (deus ex populi?) after he’s been out contemplating suicide and yelling at angels all night. The big last-minute save is earned, though, in the sense that everyone comes out to save him after a lifetime of him saving everyone else.

      • brenkilco

        And i didn’t even think to mention Alien 3 where Fincher kill of his franchise heroine for the sake of what is probably only a pyrrhic victory over the forces of corporate evil. Panic Room is indeed the weakest example since it is probably his most conventional, least Finchery movie. He is basically a misanthrope who is paradoxically fascinated by human behavior.

        I have never had a problem with the ending of IAWL. It’s of a piece with all the other sentimental elements. Course I detest IAWL. A twisted view of humanity, that somehow sells itself as a feel good celebration of the common man. George Bailey is not of course common. He’s extraordinary, since but for him everyone else in his town would be reduced to alcoholism, prostitution, general corruption and craven servitude to Mr. Potter. Don’t let the capracorn fool you. In terms of cynicism, Fincher has nothing on old Frank.

        • Somersby

          A twisted view of humanity? Really? Whoa, I think you’ve been influenced more by “enlightened” commentaries about the movie than the movie itself.

          There’s no feel good celebration of the common man in It’s a Wonderful Life. Ninety-eight percent of the story is George Bailey wrestling with his common-man position in life. He’s stuck in a no-good job in an insignificant town peopled by… well, people just like him. People just like us.

          You’re missing the power of this film. And I mean that sincerely. It’s a powerful, influential story with the sole purpose of telling YOU that you mean something. You COUNT.

          Tell me, please. What recent film—hell, any film in the last 40 years—told you that you are significant. That your everyday, run-of-the-mill life counts. And I mean that on the philosophical level, because that’s what Capra does here. He asks the viewer to look at his/her own life and question whether or not they have had ANY impact on the world in which they live.

          I can’t think of any. Not a one. And that alone makes me think this film is incredibly cutting edge, avant garde, out-of-its-time.

          While being very much in its time. And very much in OUR time at the same time.

          George Bailey isn’t extraordinary. He’s as common as common can be. And that’s the wonderful thing about him. He maintains his common-man stature throughout the film. And that, I believe, is Capra’s point.

          It’s in man’s nature to be decent, generous, loving, even sacrificial when need be, that makes us human. It binds us in our humanity.

          How can you be so callous as to deem George extraordinary? He did what any of us SHOULD do. He helped his neighbours and friends when they needed it—even when it cost him his dreams.

          And ultimately, he learns that his humanity is exactly what life is all about, why it’s worth living.

          I take exception to the “capra-corn” interpretation of this film. There is nothing wrong with reminding us that men and women have an intrinsic nature for doing good.

          …Unfortunately, we tend to forget it too easily.

          • brenkilco

            I am not a Capra fan. And the curious thing about many of his films is that they do not tell the story that people seem to think they’re telling. The message of a belief in common human decency that you see, on close examination turns out to be a mirage. Take Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Humble, honest Jeff Smith triumphs over corrupt pols and rescues the decent people of his state. You think so? Go watch the last ten minutes of the movie. The decent people of Jeff’s state have been effortlessly manipulated by the evil pols and transformed into a mob ready to tar and feather poor Jimmy Stewart. He doesn’t avoid this fate by his own efforts. At the eleventh hour one of the villains has a change of heart and confesses his sins. But for this diabalo ex machina the gullibility of Stewart’s constituents and his own naivete would have combined to guarantee him a prison stretch.

            It’s a Wonderful Life is even more insidious. Of course, Stewart’s character is extraordinary. Without him the movie makes clear the other residents of the town are lost. Unable individually or collectively to resist the forces of corruption or to prevent their nice little burg from turning into a midwest Sodom. Since we see it all through Stewart’s decent eyes this message is concealed. But look at the life of the town as a whole and Capra’s clear belief is that most people are weak and infinitely corruptible. This stuff is not as sweet and heartwarming as it seems.

          • astranger2

            “I am not a Capra fan.”

            brenkilco… I don’t even know who you are…

            … ohhhh, I forget… he slandered the Duke — for being unpatriotic…

          • brenkilco

            Hey, maybe I’m wrong about Capra. I’m sure Mussolini had his good points.

          • astranger2

            Well, Mussolini’s portrait did hang prominently in Carmine Sabatini’s bistro in The Freshman. A quirky, but nice little flick.

        • mulesandmud

          I suspect that I love IAWL for exactly the reasons you hate it. Capra pulls off a pretty incredible magic act, convincing the audience that its story is heartwarming when the movie’s cynicism is right there in front of them dominating every scene, even the happy ones.

          Cheap cynicism is highly frustrating for me, same as cheap sentiment. In IAWL though, the dark worldview is consistent and considered, and the ending is hopeful in a way that speaks to those earlier ideas, so it’s feels earned as well.

          • brenkilco

            Magic trick is exactly right. It’s pointless to deny Capra’s skill. He was in many ways a wonder. Serving up acid and making his audience believe it was maple syrup. His stuff deserves serious deconstruction. But I still loathe It’s a Wonderful Life.

    • filmklassik

      What’s interesing is that most of the Fincher titles you mention did NOT satisfy me. I actually think PANIC ROOM is Fincher’s best film because its so tense and compact and its storytelling rhythms are the most traditional.

      But the protracted (and completely off-story) ending of DRAGON TATTOO really angered me, as did the non-ending of ZODIAC (yes, I know that the movie’s ambiguity was intentional and it is based on a real unsolved case and the film is more about obsession and how the case affected and transformed the lives of those involved etc etc etc).

      And the ending of THE GAME simply asked too much of me. Namely, to buy into the single most ridiculous bugnuts-crazy movie conceit of the last 30 years (though both REINDEER GAMES and ARLINGTON ROAD made similarly insulting Act 3 demands on the viewer).

      Yeah, I don’t quite get all the Fincher love. I mean, I like that he is one of the few industry stalwarts who is still making genre movies for grown-ups. Just wish they were more satisfying.

      • brenkilco

        I am not a Fincher lover. To say he’s the best we have genre-wise says more about the movies than it does about him. And he’s not really a director of great shots or scenes. His forte seems to be setting a visual mood. But I think he’s improved the flawed scripts he’s done. Although, since he chose them he may deserve criticism there too. I went into Zodiac knowing nothing was going to be solved and wondering how Fincher was planning to hold the audience’s attention for two hours. He held mine so I acknowledge his skill. That said, anyone who believes Seven, Game and Dragon Tattoo are anything more than expertly and perversely served movie junkfood is somebody easily dazzled.

        • filmklassik

          Here’s the weird part. Act 3’s aside, there’s a lot I like about David Fincher. The screenplays he shoots are uncommonly literate for 21st Century Hollywood and, stylistically, the dude is a classicist. Just look at his compositions. They are very old school and unobtrusive and homeboy actually owns a fucking TRI-POD (Hallelujah!!) You’ll see almost no unmotivated camera moves in a DF movie… none of that insufferable, over-edited, ADD “eye candy” that has made most features and prime-time television so unwatchable now.

          (Now, do I wish he’d stick to film and not Hi-def? Absolutely. But that’s a conversation for another time)

          Clearly, Fincher is a smart, gifted director and I hope he makes twenty more movies before he hangs up his guns…

          …I just hope they have better endings.

  • mulesandmud

    Haven’t seen Gone Girl yet, but I love Galaga.

    There’s such a thing as productive procrastination, no doubt. It’s not wasted time, it’s prep time. Some ideas need longer to percolate than others, and your subconscious can do great work if you let it. My weapon of choice is chess; it keeps my brain focused and working, but leaves room on the back burner for story gears to keep grinding.

    That said, if I blow through an entire writing session on the chess board, I’m the asshole. We need to distinguish between the good procrastination and the bad, the same way that we can (hopefully) tell the difference between a slow burning plot and one that doesn’t get going fast enough. We need to give ourselves the freedom to let ideas happen without letting ourselves off the hook when it comes time for the hard part.

    The only difference between a writer and a non-writer is that a writer writes.

  • jw

    What was so frustrating about this movie was that as you watched it, you could literally spot ALL of the screenwriting 101 mistakes and then just ask yourself why in the hell it was allowed? And, can we just all say it — your character can do ANYTHING if they are quite literally one of the most genius people in the world as they plot out this crazy, asinine, over-the-top plot to send the husband to prison. Which, by the way, was not a surprise at all. I wrote a story like this years ago, so I was sitting there waiting for it. Pike’s performance is AMAZING, but isn’t this the thing with this type of character — you can have her do anything under the sun because you’re prefacing it with “she’s psychotic”. Effectively psychotic characters have no boundaries, so every answer to “why did she do that” is that she’s psychotic. Second, why would she tell the police to go to the tapes of Harris’ house? Wouldn’t they see her getting out of the car when she first got there, under absolutely no duress at all? Or, did she magically become a Geek Squad member over night with her insane intelligence and erase the video up to the point where she throws herself against the glass with the fake blood? And, of course, Ben Affleck’s character is about as interesting as a leaf, so it makes her seem all the more nutso, over-the-top and everyone else around her all the more dumb. I think this film serves for a vehicle for PIKE without a doubt (and she deserves all the praise here), but overall, David Fincher is way better than this and the writing should have been way better than this. And, I’m with you Carson, I thought the ending should have been different. In fact, I thought it should have literally been the same as the opening, but with her… and then she should have walked into the kitchen, picked up the phone and said, “I’d like to report a missing person.” The End.

  • Scott Strybos

    I saw the film with friends who did not read the book; they did not know Amy was behind her kidnapping until they showed her in the car narrating what she did. Also they thought the movie was going to be more like Breakdown or Taken: a man who travels into Hell in search of his wife.

    (When I read the novel I saw the midpoint twist coming because I had read a novel literally right before that had the exact same twist. I still enjoyed both a lot.)

  • Scott Strybos

    Every writer wants their story to be perfect—every beat, every line—but this desire rarely reflects the finished product. Very few stories are perfect. But there are many stories that we absolutely love because what they do right they do right very well.

    This story (film and novel) may have flaws but it is a good lesson in how you can overcome a flawed plot if you utilize other elements well. Narrative elements this story has employed, expertly in my opinion, are dramatic irony, mystery, and an excellent villain—Amazing Amy is such an amazing villain I am worried about Pike’s future career in film: think Louise Fletcher.

    Love it, hate it, or meh it, there are many lessons to be learned from Gone Girl.

  • Randy Williams

    I’ve never read the book or heard about it, never read any reviews on this, turn my eyes from any commercials…my “normal” friends and coworkers rarely go to newly released movies and almost never discuss them …won’t read this review or glance at the comments here.

    I’ve heard the buzz at the corners of my attention so I know it’s something.
    Finally a movie I can go blind into!

    • scriptfeels

      Aside from reading imdb summary and carson’s post a while back about it being adapted I went in Blind and really enjoyed the film!

  • Scott Strybos

    I understand Carson’s argument that Nick isn’t 100% responsible for this resolution, other than a five minute television interview. But I can’t really think of any other way to arrive at this ending other than Nick manipulating her into coming back, ie. Amy saving him.

    Amy coming back and getting pregnant means Nick is stuck with her for the rest of his life. Nick can’t even kill himself because his kid would be stuck with a psychopath. This ending is so horrible and it elicits a visceral reaction in the audience. The ending is perfect.

    Does anyone want to workshop and ending where we arrive in the same place but with Nick being more active in its creation?

  • juleslefrog

    Anyone knows the status of Gillian Flynn’s “Dark Places”? It’s my favorite book of hers, the film has a killer cast (Charlize Theron, Chloe Moretz, Corey Stoll, Christina Hendricks , Nic Hoult, Tye sheridan) and yet not release date… Were they waiting to see how “Gone Girl” did and hoping to ride on its coattails?

  • Logic Ninja

    Aw, man, I’m with Fincher on this one! The decision to have Amy come back was absolutely brilliant.

    We’ve spent the last hour building Amy into this cunning, deceitful, psychotic freak. What’s the point of all that buildup if Nick doesn’t have to face her?

    The last 20 minutes are ANYTHING but boring! They’re excruciating! We’ve just seen this woman cut a guy’s throat during intercourse and bathe in his blood. One of the most awesome, shocking scenes I’ve seen in a long time. And now Nick, the man she hates more than anyone, has to hold her hand. And sleep in her house. And eat the breakfast she cooks. AND HAVE A CHILD WITH HER. The whole thing was so unbelievably tense, I couldn’t breathe until the credits rolled.

    I do wish there’d been some kind of final resolution. Some final way Nick could escape her clutches. But all in all, the decision to have her return was great!

  • ripleyy

    I absolutely adore this movie. It’s been a day or two since I’ve seen it, and I’m *still* thinking about it. Still questioning little moments.

    It should have ended when the door closes and locks shut at the end of the movie.

    THAT would have been a brilliant ending, because we have no idea what is going to happen!

    Sticking around was a poor, poor choice but I can’t take that away from the movie – it was near perfect (would have been all perfect if it weren’t for the ending).

    Also, I’m going to be very surprised if Rosamund Pike doesn’t get tonnes of attention because of it. She was outstanding. I was surprised she didn’t start boiling the cat (she doesn’t).

    [x] Impressive.

    I haven’t seen a movie that twists and turns as much as this one, keeping you on your toes. It makes me realize how rare they are, but when good – even great – movies come around, they give me the confidence in filmmaking as an art.

    • scriptfeels

      I didn’t know Trent Reznor was doing the soundtrack for this until I saw his name in the opening credits. The Social Network is one of my favorite films so once again I thought he did a terrific job with the score!

      • ripleyy

        Yeah. I’m a massive fan of NIN / Trent Reznor, so I was giddy before I even listened to a second of the soundtrack. “Social Network” is a favorite of mine as well, though I would say “Gone Girl” has overtook the second favorite spot over “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. :)

        • Meta5

          Also a fan. The score was so good, I didn’t notice it.

    • Meta5

      I think the ending had to drag on a bit. We wanted it to end, just like Nick but it kept going whether we/he wanted it to or not.

      Brilliant film on all levels.

      • ripleyy

        Yeah, I can definitely see it that way as well. Sadly, we get off easily as it DOES end for us, but not for Nick.

    • Magga
  • Scott Strybos

    I enjoyed this story a lot but would Gone Girl have been better if we found out about Amy’s rouse before Nick did? If I remember correctly, the audience and Nick find out simultaneously when he opens his sister’s shed. A little dramatic irony goes a long way.

  • Poe_Serling

    Thanks for the review, Carson.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to read the novel or see the film yet. So, today I’ll just throw in one of my own personal favorite ‘gone girl’ missing films for discussion:

    “Bunny Lake is Missing”

    A distraught mother searches for her seemingly non-existent daughter, bringing her sanity into question.

    Directed by Otto Preminger and co-starring Laurence Olivier.

    It’s an overlooked gem in my book. Quite a suspenseful film with a good share of twists and turns to hold your interest.

    ***One quick note: Per Carson, “So yeah, despite that ending, I still enjoyed Gone Girl.”

    Along the same lines…

    Many people consider the Bunny Lake pic’s ending as its weak spot too…. but it’s still a fun ride getting there.

    • brenkilco

      Preminger is one of the few golden age directors whose rep still seems unsettled. He made some certified classics like Laura and some jaw dropping crap, like Rosebud. But many of his movies still havent gotten their due. Despite some dated attitudes Advise and Consent may still be the best movie about politics. And all his fox noirs are worth hunting up. Bunny Lake is intriguing throughout. And I wonder what resolution the critics would have preferred. The ending is a little protracted and the story does suffer from a problem people have been discussing in relation to Gone Girl. A character alternately as sane and controlled, and as batshit crazy as the plot demands.

      • Poe_Serling

        Plus, Preminger had a memorable role as Oberst von Scherbach in Stalag 17.

        • brenkilco

          And he was the second best Mr. Freeze.

        • astranger2

          I loved how in his portrayal of the Nazi commandant, with great effort from his valet, pulled on his boots , only so he could click them, OVER THE PHONE to his superior officer…

          • Poe_Serling

            Yeah, just one of numerous great moments in that classic film.

      • filmklassik

        Preminger (by some accounts the biggest sonofabitch to ever occupy a director’s chair, and let’s all stop and think about that for a moment) made some terrific movies… but BUNNY LAKE goes right off the rails in the last 20 minutes.

        • brenkilco

          Something of a bully from what I’ve read. Nice to the stars and nasty to the unknown actors. Think he drove Tom Tryon out of acting and into writing. But anybody who could manage relationships with both Gypsy Rose Lee and Dorothy Dandridge must have been an interesting character.

          • filmklassik

            Yeah, his personal life sounds like a movie unto itself. Perhaps a miniseries.

            Haven’t seen all of Preminger’s movies… or even most of them… but I do dig LAURA and WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS and ANATOMY OF A MURDER is great until the last three minutes.

            The latter, in fact, is very like a David Fincher movie, coming as it does from a popular and “important” best-selling novel with a crime at its center… running nearly three hours… and having an ambiguous (and not entirely satisfying) finale.

          • brenkilco

            According to Andrew Sarris ambiguity and objectivity were Preminger’s thing. And many of his later films end on somewhat inconclusive and to some people unsatisfactory notes. Anatomy, Advise and Consent, In Harm’s Way and Exodus all sort of just stop.

          • filmklassik

            Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of good things about ADVISE and will definitely be checking it out (my grandfather, if memory serves, loved the novel). IN HARM’S WAY and EXODUS I understand are less successful.

            BTW, how’s Newman is performance in EXODUS? I only ask because Newman’s one of the few bona fide superstars who actually got better as he got older. At least, he’s the one whose improvement over time was most dramatic.

            Dude was incredibly stiff and theatrical in the late 50s, early 60s… I mean, Jesus Christ was that man broad! And even when his undeniable charisma was in full flower in classics like HUD and THE HUSTLER he is *still* a bit broad and “gesture-y” when he doesn’t have to be — at least in certain scenes.

            But there was a definite learning-curve afoot throughout the rest of the decade so that by the time SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION (1970) and THE STING (1973) came along… and certainly by the time he did THE VERDICT in 1982… he had refined his craft and learned the value of minimalism. That billion-watt charisma was still there (and never really deserted him, even in his final years) but he had matured into one of our very best actors.

            I really miss that guy.

          • brenkilco

            He plays the lead in Exodus very dutiful and dull. Except for one scene where he has to attempt a British accent and boy is he awful. And yeah, in the sixties he was generally prone to that overbroad, contorted, methody style of acting. In Hombre he plays this stoical character and still manages to overdo it a little.

            And you ought to check out Advise and Consent. Laughton’s last movie and he’s particularly great. A genuine ensemble movie. It has a clear story but doesn’t really have a main character. Can’t think of another mainstream Hollywood picture from that era quite like it.

          • filmklassik

            Yeah, I’ve heard Laughton really crushes it in ADVISE. If there was one actor who could dine on the scenery and get away with it, it was Chuck Laughton.

            Gotta watch HOMBRE again. Was Newman really overdoing it there? My memory is, he was wonderful in that movie but I haven’t seen it in a good 20 years.

            Best line from HOMBRE. Newman to Richard Boone: “I got a question. How are you gonna get back down that hill?” That scene’s a masterpiece.

          • astranger2

            Great line, but courtesy of Elmore Leonard, another memorable few from Hombre:

            Audra Favor: I can’t imagine eating a dog and not thinking anything of it.

            John Russell: You even been hungry, lady? Not just ready for supper. Hungry enough so that your belly swells?

            Audra Favor: I wouldn’t care how hungry I got. I know I wouldn’t eat one of those camp dogs.

            John Russell: You’d eat it. You’d fight for the bones, too.

          • brenkilco

            Great cast and writing in that movie. Diane Cilento should have won an Oscar and didn’t even get a nom. One of Boone’s best parts too. “They heard you call me a dirty name. And even if they didn’t, I did.”

      • astranger2

        Not sure why, but always liked a little, unspectacular, and really un-noteworthy film of his, Such Good Friends… maybe it was that one revenge scene featuring Dyan Cannon and James Coco. Memorable. The scene.

  • Will_Alexander

    Here are my thoughts/problems. TONS OF SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE IN THIS COMMENT.

    There’s a brand of fiction sometimes referred to as “trash.” Trash is not a signifier of quality – trash can be good or bad – but a description of style, I think. I think Gone Girl is trash – really good trash – for a couple reasons.

    The storyteller doesn’t play fair. If we start the movie in the middle of the argument Nick and Amy have the morning of her disappearance, it would be more honest and fair to the audience, and would give us a very different view of what comes in the first half. If we know Nick has a mistress before it is arbitrarily revealed to us (if we know early enough that it becomes part of who we understand Nick to be), then we have a different view of things early on.

    What I’m saying – and what bothered me a little – is that the set-up is designed to look like it is giving us the story from Nick’s POV, when in fact it is doing no such thing. That in and of itself would not necessarily be a problem. The problem for me is that instead of giving us Nick’s POV, the movie gives us NO POV. We get only what the storyteller lets us have, and the storyteller is lying to us. There’s no character we follow along with who has the same info as us and is trying to figure things out the same way, at the same time, we are.

    If we were really getting to know Nick at the beginning, we’d see the fight. We’d know he had a girlfriend. The movie could still cut out the section where Nick would presumably have time to kill Amy and dispose of the body, if it still wanted to plant some seed in our mind of Nick’s possible guilt (but I think that would be a mistake).

    Which leads me to another problem I had with the story. I don’t think there was ever any chance to get the audience to seriously believe Nick killed her. When? How? What would he possibly have done with the body? Is there any blood in his car? Did they look? Interview the neighbors? How the hell can they not find Amy’s phone? Any security or traffic cameras anywhere along Nick’s route that morning that might’ve shown he was telling the truth?

    I think it could’ve worked better if the story was honest with us from the beginning about who Nick was: a not-so-great guy in a shitty marriage who has done nothing illegal but may very well get the death penalty anyway. Don’t make us suspect him, just make us fear for him. Spend all your energy on that instead of dividing it up between fearing for him and sort-of-halfway-kinda-maybe hinting that he maybe-sorta-coulda had something to do with her disappearance maybe if you squint real hard.

    I never for one second thought Nick had anything to do with her disappearance. There was simply no evidence to support that. I wish there had been no time spent trying to get me to suspect that just for a couple cheap reveals like, “But wait! He has a mistress! Dun-dun-DUUUUN!” You get more drama, and more mileage out of that drama, if we know from the beginning that he has a mistress and that it could blow up in his face at any moment. And you get rid of that cheap, soap-opera reveal.

    AND, if we see them fighting from the very first frame, we are in Nick’s head and sharing his feelings when he comes home to the overturned coffee table and open door. “Maybe she got pissed, flipped the table, and stormed out. Maybe she needs to walk it off.” That, I think, would be a better experience for the audience than watching him from a distance and wondering what he’s thinking and why he’s not immediately concerned. His behavior does not come across as suspicious in those moments, it comes across as dull. As in slow and dumb. I was not suspecting him at all, so I’m just left to wonder if he’s mentally-challenged. “Why isn’t he shocked by what he sees? Why doesn’t he call out her name? Does he understand what he’s looking at?”

    There were so many good, earned, effective twists and reveals, that these bothered me and stood out. I think they were mistakes of drama because they are staples of “trash.” The, “AH-HA, he’s not who you think he is” brand of reveal where-in the only reason we didn’t know who he was, dear writer, is because you didn’t tell us – not because there was any real mystery – feels very much of the airport novel. It works in a disposable medium like that, but in drama, which I think should endure, it is audience-alienation that should be abandoned in favor of audience-participation.

    But fucking Fincher almost made it work. He may be the best.

  • scriptfeels

    SPOILERS IN MY COMMENTS!!

    I really enjoyed this film, but I’m also into psychotic female characters who kill people and I love seeing characters covered in blood. I just finished watching Mirai Nikki for any anime fans out there and just love movies that make me internally scream like Silence of the Lambs. Although I hadn’t read the book for Gone Girl and I laugh at Ben Affleck at times I think he has continued to develop as an actor. Rosamund Pike was incredible in this. I loved how there were moments of comedy as well like when Neil Patrick Harris’ character, Desi Collings, responds to Amy’s invitation to go somewhere with him with a random quip “Octopus and Scrabble”? I also had seen the Nic Cage Film Left Behind this weekend and that theater was empty where as when I saw gone girl the theater was filled so it was a better theater experience laughing and gasping with strangers and friends alike. If anyone has any psychological Thriller recommendations I’m all ears!

  • fragglewriter

    Based on your review of the movie as well as the screenplay/book, that is the only reason why I want to see the movie and read the book. A guy at my job said that he really enjoyed the movie except for the ending. He said the movie was charged alll the way through and when it come to the ending, they just basically cut if off. And the pregnancy, he thought was horrible.

  • filmklassik

    Well, I disagree with you about the “brave new world” thing because the storytelling verities that have been around since before Aristotle came along have persisted for a reason: They’re inherently satisfying. There’s always been a place for outliers (see GONE GIRL, MEMENTO, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, etc) but the idea of providing audiences with an intriguing problem in Act 1, then complicating that problem in Act 2, then resolving that problem with a powerful and moving CATHARSIS n Act 3 is a template that ain’t never going out of style. Nor should it.

    But I agree with you about Affleck. He’s a highly gifted director, a mediocre actor, and one of the worst celebrity-pundits of the year. His turn on Bill Maher’s program the other night was embarrassing.

  • SendHimtoBelize

    Saw Gone Girl a few days ago and I’m surprised by all the talk about what is essentially a popcorn movie. It’s all surface and by the end twists itself in knots and completely self-destructs.

    The film starts out as a murder mystery. We have plenty of redherrings thrown our way in the first 40 minutes. The film gets away with is using narration to mislead us. The false diary entries are used to build a picture of the marriage that makes us question Nick. The choice to focus on the media speculation and the media image of Nick, and the fact that Nick didn’t particularly care his wife was missing are what is so unique about the first half of Gone Girl. The film up to this point was working well enough; my only gripes being the whole Amazing Amy thing (very hokey even if it fits the theme of perceived identity vs true identity), the sister called go (even if its short for Margo), playing board games in the bar, a cop off the cuff using the word ‘meta’ and all that cute fucking dialogue in general. None of it rang true. Amy in particular was so self-absorbed it was hard not to dislike her, which coming to think of it may have been the point.

    After the big revelation, the film moves from cartoonish to full on absurd. Realism goes missing,the plot points forced and fast and character motivations become very skewed. The second half of the movie effectively undermines any point, satire or subtlety to the first half.

    I left the cinema wondering how it took the police so long to find blood on the murder weapon.

    • filmklassik

      I’ve been saying this all day: I do like some of Fincher’s work… he’s a very good technical director… and even much of GONE GIRL was enjoyable… but the Hitchcockian stuff was piss-poor-to-awful and the ending was a major let down.

      And of course Amy’s plot was ridiculous, depending as it did on Nick being at the Dunes of Solitude or Solitude Beach or Patsy Point or whatever the hell it was called with absolutely NO eyewitnesses to see him there (because Amy’s year-in-the-making plan goes to hell if Nick goes to Starbucks for 3 hours)…

      Along the same lines, when she decides to blame everything on Neil Patrick Harris, who’s to say Harris wasn’t in San Tropez when she was staging her abduction? Or Bora Bora? Or just visiting his sick Aunt Tess in Lawrence Kansas?

      She sure got lucky, didn’t she? Both times.

      • Meta5

        These plot points are metaphors.

        If things don’t go as Amy planned, the story doesn’t work like if the relationship doesn’t go as Amy planned, the relationship won’t work.

        • filmklassik

          So any flaws in Amy’s plan were put into the story intentionally, because they were on-theme?

          Hmm. Interesting theory, but let’s just say I’m agnostic about that.

          • Meta5

            The plot isn’t meant to be taken literally. That’s why the bar is named The Bar and the word “meta” is used by one of the characters. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more hints that I missed.

          • filmklassik

            Sorry but in no way does this movie’s text support your reading of it as Pure Allegory. This film (like the novel it’s based on) is set in a familiar, recognizable world and is thus bound by recognizable laws of cause and effect.

            And Detective Boney’s line about the name of Nick’s bar (“My, how meta”) was a mild jab at Nick’s literary pretentiousness… at his and Amy’s rather patronizing belief in themselves as big city sophisticates forced to go slumming in the boonies.

          • Meta5

            Yep, it’s a great piece of dialogue, it serves multiple purposes.

            The film is not blatantly obvious allegory. What makes it brilliant is that it works on both levels – to a lesser extent on a purely plot driven level but it still works. It follows the rules while still letting us know, maybe too subtly for some, that the scenes represent something else.

            Nick playing board games with his sister represents men who play “games” with females. He brings her a game he knows she doesn’t like. Amongst the stack of board games, “Emergency” is most prominent. They play the game of “Life” where Nick adds the marriage icon to his game piece and asks “what’s the point of this game?” These are the first hints, I think, that there is more to the following scenes than just the surface plot points.

  • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

    Thanks for the post Carson. La-ove hearing how authors handle script adapataions of their own work, as that’s what I’m doing right now.

    As for “Gone Girl.” I saw the movie last night and was suprised by how bad it was. After the first hour or so, I was looking at my watching hoping it would end soon. This “Fatal Attraction” meets “Ransom” never worked for me. Didn’t feel like Ben Afflick’s Nick was in enough jeaopardy. The Amy character was a great villain, but she too feel appart once she got taken in by her ultra rich, former high school boyfriend: the Neil Patrick Harris character. After she brutally slit his throat after she allowed him to have sex with her, I clocked out of this movie mentally and couldn’t wait for it to end.

    Was suprised at all the positive buzz about this movie, because it really sucks! And that being said, I find myself really liking most movies Ben Affeck stars in, just not this one.

  • Poe_Serling

    You’re right – Bunny Lake and Flight Plan do share a very similar premise. Of course, the Jodie Foster vehicle is a more up-to-date and ‘high flying’ concept when compared to the ’60s, low-key London-based thriller BL.

    • Fish Tank Festival

      Ah, okay, thanks. Have to check out BUNNY LAKE then.

  • brenkilco

    The venerable premise( a protag searching for someone everyone else claims does not exist) goes back at least as far as Lady Vanishes in films. The classic version, based on a well established urban legend is told in the movie So Long at the Fair. The unique twist in Bunny Lake that separates it from Flight Plan and most other takes on the idea is that the audience does not know until the end whether Bunny actually exists or not.

    • filmklassik

      FLIGHT PLAN boasts one of the most insultingly retarded (and I am talking clinically retarded — I am not being hyperbolic here) “villainous schemes” ever cooked up by the mind of a screenwriter. It really must be seen to be believed. For me it amounted to the producers, the writers and the director all flipping me the bird for two hours.

      Yes, by the end of it I was just that insulted.

      SO LONG AT THE FAIR is quite good, and quite ingenious. Another story that uses a similar LADY VANISHES-type set-up with somewhat less successful results is DANGEROUS CROSSING, from 1953.

  • Linkthis83

    In Scriptshadow time, I’m way late to this GG party. I’m not even fashionably late. I mean, there’s no way I’m getting any hookers or blow.

    It’s been fun to read this review and the strong opinions of those who saw the movie. I read the book a couple months ago, so I was robbed of getting to experience this as solely cinematic. That’s the major unfortunate aspect of wanting to read these stories before seeing them as movies. But I had heard that the book was set up wildly different than most tales and I wanted to experience that on the page turning level.

    When I’d reached the point in the book where Amy was still alive, and then began telling her story…I was disappointed. I was bummed. But I got over myself and appreciated the story as a whole. The thoughtfulness that has to go into creating that story, even somewhat convincingly, is migraine inducing. One of the first things I did after reading that book was finding out how much effort Gillian put in researching. That’s something I’m always thinking about while developing = writing with credibility on something I know nothing about. Hell, if my scene involves a kitchen sink, I start researching sinks to learn about them and why you would have different kinds.

    “In my opinion, the ending of Gone Girl turned what should’ve been one of the best books of our generation into a great big missed opportunity.”

    Wow, man, I’m surprised to hear this from you. This is a fantastic ending. It’s the most fittingly appropriate fucked up ending you could have for these fucked up characters. Unless of course the ending that you are talking about is the extra time spent with these two solidifying the fact that they are going to remain together (or, at least for now they say they will).

    “On top of this, Amy showing up gets Nick out of trouble without him having to do anything. I HATE that. I think it’s the laziest kind of writing there is – handing your hero the solution.”

    While I agree that the type of writing you mention isn’t very inspirational, I feel it doesn’t apply here at all. Not one iota.

    We’ve seen the woman missing story a lot. I think what truly happens in GG is that we get so much awesome creativity that it’s almost an overload. A twista-a-palooza. But it’s done so well.

    So in this story we get the husband’s POV first, and when his wife goes missing, we wonder what happened. We know it could be him, but if not, then where is she. Then we get evidence and opportunities of doubt. Now it could be him. And we are thinking, I bet they are going to make me think he did it, and then he’ll get out of it, then we’ll learn he really did it.

    Out of the gate though, we get Amy’s journal side. We get her POV. What we really get is her manipulating us to trust her. She’s writing in something private. And we get to visually see these stories. The early portions are in agreement with Nick’s take as well. She’s now established trust and reliability which is necessary for the long con. Time passes and now she can spin this tale whichever she likes. — And that’s exactly what the police did when interviewing Nick. They laid the pages out and verified Amy’s credibility early in the journal. Same same.

    One of the details that was in the book that I wished they had put into the movie regarding the underwear found in Nick’s office. The size of that underwear didn’t match Amy’s size. I thought that was a nice subtle touch in the book.

    In regards to Tyler Perry – I absolutely fucking agree. I’ve never watched him in anything. And because of my preconceived notions based on nothing factual, I’ve always written him off as somebody I wouldn’t want to watch in a movie. He was fucking great as Tanner Bolt, and wish he had more screentime. Loved it.

  • klmn

    I don’t get creepy doll movies at all. What’s scary about a fucking doll?

    • Poe_Serling

      When I first saw this one on late-night TV as a kid, I remember having trouble falling asleep that night. ;-)

      http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Zuni_Fetish_Doll

      • klmn

        Never saw that one, but I doubt it would effect me.

        OT: Did you see that Baby Doc Duvalier died in Haiti? It would be cool if he came back as a zombie.

        I prefer my zombies Haitian, with Creole seasoning.

        • klmn

          Double OT. Geoffrey Holder, the Baron Samedi from Live and Let Die, also died.

          Coincidence? Perhaps…

  • Meta5

    A story about an unsatisfying relationship must have an unsatisfying ending.

  • Meta5

    I think it fits the character. She too arrogant too believe these low class people could get the best of her. It’s why Amy has no problem befriending the young woman, she doesn’t view her as intelligent enough to be of any threat.

  • Meta5

    “That’s why we watch movies, to see the hero solve the problem. I mean
    imagine if in Silence of the Lambs, Buffalo Bill showed up at Clarice’s
    desk and said, “I’m sorry for causing all this trouble. I turn myself
    in.” THAT’S THE EQUIVALENT OF WHAT HAPPENED IN GONE GIRL! Nick is dead
    in the water and…. HIS WIFE SHOWS UP AND SAVES HIM??? It’s just a really
    convenient choice and it shows the workings of a writer who gave up,
    who didn’t work hard enough to come up with something better.”

    Carson, Carson, Carson, this is exactly what happened in another Fincher film, Seven, and it was a brilliant choice – the only choice.

    In Gone Girl, it works as a metaphor and part of the theme. Again, the only choice.

  • maxi1981

    Sorry Carson but I loved the ending and disagree with you that Affleck doesn’t do anything and that the ending is an easy way out for him. Maybe we watched a different movie but doesn’t he go through hell with everyone pointing the finger at him and hiring a lawyer with a $100K retainer, has to go on national TV as well and say hes a douchebag.The fact that she just comes back to him is because she had no way out unless she killed herself or moved to mexico.

    What I will say is that the casting of affleck for this role was all wrong, I felt that there could’ve been another 10 different actors who could have brought some more nuance to the role and made him much more memorable, I’m thinking Edward Norton, Jake Gyllenhall, Tom Hardy would have been my top 3 pics. Anyone agree or disagree with this point? Rosamund Pike was awesome and deserves the oscar buzz and so does Fincher, In a lot of ways the way he executed this was very similar to Zodiac in that he gives us pieces of the puzzle and shows us these characters’ lives unravelling before our eyes.

    • Meta5

      I think he was a good choice – he’s faced a lot of media scrutiny in real life, he’s been viewed as a douche and a good guy, much like his character.

      His character was supposed to be plain and unmemorable. He even says that one of the reasons he fell in love with Amy is that she made him feel that he was more than what he was – a plain, unmemorable dope.

      I think it was a good, subtle performance from Affleck.

      • Kirk Diggler

        I agree with this. Norton, Gyllenhall and Hardy are way too intense for what was required. Affleck has his limitations, but as you point out, his limitations work in his favor here.

  • Jim Dandy

    I just got back from the cinema after seeing this movie. Man, what a disappointment!

    It’s got no sense of rhythm. After the midpoint reveal, what little tension there was just disappears. Hitchcock would have turned the thumbscrews and made the audience grip their seats until their knuckles turned white. But Fincher just lets the story wander around aimlessly, chasing its own tail.

    And I hated the characters. Despite the movie being 2.5 hours, they were never portrayed beyond surface level. And don’t get me started on the plot holes. If the pregnancy was such a big clue, why didn’t the cops do a DNA test on the urine sample? Also, a lot of the dialogue was flat and lacking in finesse or zing.

    It’s like Gillian Flynn just took bits from her novel without re-writing the screenplay from the ground up.

    On the plus side, we did get to see a lot of Emily Ratajkowski!

  • Midnight Luck

    Haven’t read the book.
    Would rather watch the movie. so I did.
    Really good build, all the way up until…..she kills Doogie Hauser and then comes running back home?

    the story was constructed much like SE7EN actually. There was a shocking surprise in that movie where the killer WALKS right up to the detectives and turns himself in. When there are still 2 DEADLY SINS left to be discovered! All you could think was WTF? This doesn’t seem right. IT REALLY catches you off guard. Suddenly your head is trying to make sense of it all, like “this can’t really be how it ends”. The GENIUS of the script / movie was that, IT WASN”T how it ended. The BEST was yet to come in those final 20 minutes. They were just INSANE 20 minutes.

    We get to the final scene of the box, and Brad Pitt pointing a gun at Jon Doe’s head, and in a 5 minute period the agony of wonder and stress just goes off the charts as you are watching. And then it just ENDS. Boom! It doesn’t linger about.

    That amazing ending was AWE inspiring.

    The ending of GONE GIRL? Really wasn’t. I kept hearing about the final Twist, the mysteries, etc. But it didn’t have them. Yes there was a big reveal about half way through the movie, and a few mysteries solved, but the whole second half went DOWNHILL not UPHILL in the pressure / wonder department.

    What a flaccid ending.

    Really enjoyed the first half, disappointed with the second, and appalled by the end.
    Damn.

    • Kirk Diggler

      I can see how you might feel that way. Others are having the same reaction. But I just saw this film a short while ago. The movie more or less lacks any real tension once we find out what happened to Amazing Amy. If you went to it expecting a crime film, you will leave disappointed. The entire thing is one big satire. We are not supposed to take anything that happens all that seriously. In some ways, this film recalls Gus Van Sant’s “To Die For” and it’s satirical look at news media as infotainment. On that level, once the film embraced the humor in just how outlandish the whole scenario is, it’s enjoyable. It isn’t the movie people expect based on the way the trailer was marketed. I think that is contributing to the somewhat deflated feeling at the end.

      • Midnight Luck

        I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the story except little dribbles I had picked up over time as the book went through being a huge best seller. I never really knew much about the story though. The only thing I had heard was that there was a huge TWIST ending. Yet it didn’t seem that way. The twist was about 1/2 way through. I didn’t even read this review until now, because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I just saw it today.

        I wanted to see it because Fincher can be just amazing. Some of the best movies of the last 20 years have been from him. Se7en, Fight Club, Social Network, etc. I was hoping for some gritty twisted stuff, but was open to most anything, as Social Network was nothing like Se7en, but it was a phenomenally well told story.

        It was overall just surprising that they went with a choice of deciding to have the intensity of the story go DOWN as it went into the end of the final act, as opposed to get more intense.

        I am not sure it worked that well overall.

        I did get all the ways in which they were playing with the media and perception. It was great for 2/3 of the movie. But man, the drop off of intensity was so stark it really affected everything in the mood of the film. I really don’t feel they played the right choice overall for the ending.

        • Meta5

          This film is about an unsatisfying relationship. You’re supposed to feel unsatisfied.

          It’s all about themes, metaphors and subtext. If you view it from that perspective I think you find it more enjoyable. Forget about the surface plot and think about what each story choice is saying about the themes.

          Seven is brilliant, one of my favorites, but there’s much more going on beneath the surface in Gone Girl.

          I didn’t realize until today, four days later, some of the subtext of the scene in the beginning where Nick is playing board games with his sister. It represents the “games” women and men play. He brings her a game he knows she won’t like. She admits she will play it one day it b/c it will make him happy.

          It’s pretty obvious now and there’s a lot more comments about relationships like that in the scene but I missed them at first because I was looking for surface plot details. Same goes for the rest of the film.

          Similarly, I was unsatisfied with the ending but the more I thought about it, I realized it was the only ending this film could have.

      • Meta5

        “The entire thing is one big satire. We are not supposed to take anything that happens all that seriously.”

        Exactly.

  • silvain

    Remember, Carson, in SE7EN, also directed by Fincher, John Doe turns himself in at the end of act two, and that worked. Not saying Gone Girl is anywhere near as good as SE7EN, but I can see why Fincher was drawn to its unorthodox ending.