GONE GIRL Special Edition: Comparing to Director's Earlier Works and Some Notes

GONE GIRL Special Edition: Comparing to Director's Earlier Works and Some Notes

“Gone Girl” (by giving quote marks I refer to the book) is a unique presentation of a writing, although in my record the author, Gillian Flynn—I haven’t even heard of her before (or her earlier works, either)—wasn’t granted too many awards for this beautiful work. The least, I guess, is Goodreads’ Choice Awards in 2012. I’m not some avid book readers, but from the least that I know, her “Gone Girl” is very distinctive. Generally speaking, it’s unusual.

Well, the story, of course you know, is about a disappearance of a girl; a wife, precisely. Amy is the gone girl. Nick is her husband. Synopsis given by 20th Century Fox on the movie’s page on IMDb very clearly says that GONE GIRL (by writing in capital I refer to the movie) is about a wife disappeared on her fifth wedding anniversary. It’s indicated that Amy is not gone—she’s murdered. And Nick, because of his lies and strange behaviors, is suspected as the murderer.

Comparing to David Fincher’s Earlier Works

The structure of the book is built by two perspectives: Nick Dunne’s and Amy Dunne’s. There are two ‘I’s referring to each of them. Each chapter is allocated for each of them, alternately (the first chapter is based on Nick’s perspective, the second is Amy’s, and so on). Nick’s chapters tell his experience right before, during, and after his wife disappearance, while Amy’s chapters start off from her diary, telling the background story of their marriage: how she meets Nick, how she falls for Nick, and all things that happened in their marriage until she disappears.

Rosamund Pike and David Fincher

Gillian Flynn plays with the psychology of both ‘the suspected’ and ‘the victim’ and how they perceived their marriage as the main reason of the wife’s disappearance. So overall this is not a third POV story; it’s a first POV in dual perspective.

While the book itself is different from any common mystery-thriller novels (because its in-depth psychological view towards marital problems), I’m not sure Fincher is going to show a brand new ‘style of storytelling’, so although this comparing-to-earlier-works thing is not really necessary, I think it’ll be easier to compare GONE GIRL with some of his previous works to get the big picture of what GONE GIRL will be like.

So here we go:

David Fincher’s earlier works, mostly, are based on moving-forward stories (THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is a re-telling, but it’s mostly linear: the life of Benjamin Button, from birth to death, is linear for sure). Only THE SOCIAL NETWORK that actively moves back-and-forth.

“Gone Girl” (at least in its first half) hooks the readers to go forward, following the investigation due to Amy’s disappearance, while at the same time flash back to the past, recounting Amy’s view about their early years of marriage. It’s very back-and-forth. But, I’m not sure if GONE GIRL is gonna be as actively moving back-and-forth as THE SOCIAL NETWORK because if it is, it’ll be a bit exhausting.

My prediction: it’ll be more like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, perhaps with a bit nuance from THE GAME. I guess Fincher would focus on the mystery side—the solving-the-riddle side, the whodunit side—of the story (and this is so linear), while Amy’s recount of their early years of marriage might only be positioned as montage or ‘supporting’ view.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Continuing to compare GONE GIRL with his other previous works, it seems that the book doesn’t have significant material to deal with the police investigation (and all the forensic details), so it won’t be like ZODIAC. It doesn’t have enough thrills to be like PANIC ROOM, neither it has enough horrors and sicknesses to be similar with SE7EN or FIGHT CLUB (although the characterization of some characters in GONE GIRL is significant enough to be compared to that of these two films).

So, yeah, it’ll be like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, with a little bit of THE GAME’s riddle flavoring.

Some Notes

Actually I’m a bit (a very little bit) disappointed about Fincher’s decision to choose Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross again for music department. I think they already ran out of bullets: how they fill THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO with almost similar music theme from THE SOCIAL NETWORK didn’t really work. The same nuance, you know.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

I’m so hoping it’ll have a different touch (I don’t know how it’ll be different; Reznor and Ross’ collaboration created a music style so characterized it’s hard to be just ‘different’), because Fincher is so specialized in this genre. Oh, how we all know it well. It’s a good thing, but it’s a bad thing, too.

The biggest challenge will be how viewers don’t get trapped in the same issue: the same darkness, the same atmosphere, like he used to show in his previous works. The story has a good material to dig beside its all-crime story (the marital problems, for sure) and I think Fincher has to start re-preparing them all from the technical part. Jeff Cronenweth re-teaming as DoP, well okay if that’s become Fincher’s visual style (the same coloring, okay?) but I just hope perhaps he can play a different touch for the music?

Duration? I guess 120 minutes (+/- 10 minutes) is effective. More than that, prone to be boring: there’s nothing more exciting than how the story gets complicated (in the middle) and ends. But, less than that is not an option either. I think however Fincher intended to minimize the book’s ‘I’ effect, some of the psychological, romance-drama sense of the story has to be contemplated. Like I said, this is basically a wedding-gone-wrong, a marital crime that involves the media (a media frenzy, perhaps), more than just a mere crime. So the sociological impact of the crime needs emphasizing. And it can’t be effectively told in such a less amount of duration.

I’m intrigued by this thread on IMDb. Does the trailer spoil anything? Those who read the book (like me—applause again, please) know that it doesn’t spoil anything. I myself think that that was the best-est trailer any directors could prepare for such a mysterious story. It’s just very... curiosity raising. Brilliant. Misleadingly brilliant. Even for the book readers; we know that Flynn prepared a different ending for the movie, and ‘though we would respond to the thread topic like, “Nah, it’s not like that”, we’ll still be guessing if the ‘new ending’ will be any uneasier than the book.

Gone Girl

We still have lots of things to discuss: the cast choice, the film’s 'awardability', all, and my next post is gonna be about the cast (wait for it!), while this post is like an overview of my general opinion about this book-to-movie adaptation. It’ll be great if you share your opinion too! Don’t forget to comment :)

Akbar Saputra

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