Ben Affleck in GONE GIRL

20th Century Fox

We already know that David Fincher‘s Gone Girl will be slightly different than author Gillian Flynn‘s original novel — at least, different when it comes to some third act tweaks — but that doesn’t mean that the filmmaker and writer have abandoned all the stuff that made the bestelling tale of a missing wife (Rosamund Pike) and her maybe-guilty husband (Ben Affleck) so good. That would be, in simple terms, really stupid.

Most of our looks at the film so far — and there have been plenty, thanks to two juicy trailers — have focused on the film’s basic premise, which sounds like an obvious thing to do, but one that doesn’t exactly reflect the twisting and twisted nature of Flynn’s book. Yes, Amy Elliott Dunne (Pike) is missing, but no, this isn’t a film about a husband (Affleck) who offs his wife and tries to get away with it (and, no, that’s really not a spoiler). The latest trailer for the film finally starts layering on the creepy, weird mystery that starts to seep through in Flynn’s novel somewhere around the hundred page mark, and it just doesn’t let up. Basically, for people who loved the book, this is catnip (and assurance that the final film won’t be too far off the mark from the original). Let’s break it down.

That’s certainly different than the stuff we’ve seen before, right? And here’s why: this is textbook stuff (uh, if we’re just pretending that “Gone Girl” is textbook, and why not really), and it’s ripped right from the pages of Flynn’s novel. What stuff? How about:

1. Courtship Flashbacks

Gone Girl

20th Century Fox

Flynn’s novel slips and slides between perspectives and time periods, neatly doling out information over long periods. The book is rife with flashbacks to Amy and Nick’s early years together, initially happy times that take on a very different cast depending on if they are told from Amy or Nick’s perspective and when they arrive in the book. For instance, the pair’s first meeting sounds adorable when shared early on, but it feels extremely different when related later. How creepy does this courtship look in flashback? So creepy.

2. Amy’s Fear

Gone Girl

20th Century Fox

The book is partially told from snippets of Amy’s diary, which includes a long stretch of time when Mrs. Dunne is extremely afraid of Mr. Dunne. We’ll leave it at that.

3. The Creepy, Weird Mall

Gone Girl

20th Century Fox

Financial issues plague the Dunnes, which is why they move from New York City to Nick’s native Missouri, looking for a fresh (and cheaper) start. Although they are somewhat back on their feet by the time Amy goes missing, money matters drift in and out of the narrative — which is why it’s so striking when we visit an abandoned mall populated by the homeless, first with Nick, then with Amy. It’s not a fun place.

4. The Marionettes

Gone Girl

20th Century Fox

The marionettes.

5. Nick’s Ill-Timed Smile

Gone Girl

20th Century Fox

Flynn’s novel also weaves in a big emphasis on the media spotlight often shined on women (especially white women) who go missing. There’s even a Nancy Grace stand-in! Soon after Amy goes missing, Nick is thrust into a media circus, one that he is staggeringly ill-equipped to deal with. The guy just can’t catch a break, but who can blame him, because who smiles at a press conference about his missing wife? Bad move, Nick, but a key point in the book.

Gone Girl will have its world premiere at the New York Film Festival next month, with a wide release to follow on October 3rd. It’s currently unclear when this year’s other Flynn adaptation, Dark Places, will arrive. The film has quietly cycled through a number of fall release dates, but currently does not have an official one.


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