The problem with adapting a “much loved” book is that, while it comes with a ready-made fan base, those fans will hit the roof if the film isn’t exactly what they think it should be.
It helps, then, to have the author – Gillian Flynn – write the screenplay, because any changes can’t be argued with as they’re her (in this case) characters and it’s her story.
Which is just one of the ways the makers of Gone Girl dodged a potential bullet.
The other was to hire David Fincher as the director.
Yes, he may have dropped the ball with the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (not really his fault, it was up against a classic in the original), but this is the man who gave us The Social Network, Se7en, Zodiac, Fight Club (not that we can talk about that) and Aerosmith’s Janie’s Got A Gun video.
And in Gone Girl, he has again crafted a brilliant thriller that – if you don’t know the plot twists – keeps you guessing all the way to the end.
Of course, one of the other problems with a “much loved” book is the fact nearly everyone knows what happens – which makes the fact Fincher manages to actually create twists and shocks more of an achievement.
For the two of you who haven’t read the book, it’s about a woman (Amy, played by Rosamund Pike) who goes missing and everyone thinks the husband (Ben Affleck’s Nick) did a bad thing.
And that’s all I can tell you.
With a steady pace and two stand-out performances by the lead pair (Pike is perfect as Amy), Gone Girl takes you on a twisted, dark, sinister ride, with several moments that genuinely shock.
It’s long – almost too long – but it’s hard to see what could be cut. We’ve already lost one supporting characters, and two others have been busted down to very minor roles.
Thankfully that cat isn’t one of them.
It’s a dark film, too. Not just in tone, but in actual shade. A lot of things happen in half-light and shadow, which – for me – added tension and annoyed in equal measure (I’m not ruling out a projection issue).
But don’t go in thinking this is an entirely sombre piece – it’s not.
Gruesome stabbings and wrongly-used wine bottles aside, there are some fine comic moments here – and even in moments of great tension, sarcastic asides are used to great effect (another plus to having the original writer on board).
And the running gag during the second half of the film is great.
All that said, it’s not as flawless as many are claiming.
For a start, how did the cat get in the bedroom, eh? And that other phone is a bit of a giveaway. There’s another question as well, which I won’t mention here but is raised by Nick towards the end and is not answered.
But these are niggles.
I’ve seen some say it’s better than Se7en – it’s not; but if you’re after a quality thriller that has all the bits in the right place, then you won’t go far wrong.
And if, like me, you hated the ending of the book, you might come away pleasantly surprised.
I mean, who doesn’t like aliens?
Bugger, I’ve said too much…