If you’ve so far resisted reading even just one of author Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novels, now is probably the time to give in and give over to the twisted charms of any of Flynn’s three books and get sucked into her cleverly engineered worlds, especially since you’re about to be inundated with all sorts of material from the David Fincher-directed take on her most recent novel, “Gone Girl.” Fincher’s version of Gone Girl features an interesting and varied cast of talents (which is a nice way of saying that I’m not entirely sold on a few of his picks), including Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Missi Pyle, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Casey Wilson, Patrick Fugit, Scoot McNairy, and Carrie Coon, and it attempts to translate Flynn’s complicated story of a young wife (Pike) who goes missing and what that means for her embattled husband (Affleck).
As is the case with all of Flynn’s works, it’s difficult to truly explain what the film is about without giving a whole mess of stuff away. It’s best to spout off a common-sounding storyline, and pair it up with the assurance that it’s only a tiny bit of a big, dark, winding, insane iceberg. Basically, Gone Girl sounds like a TV movie ‐ and it’s not. This is pure Fincher territory. The new film also boasts a script from Flynn herself ‐ one that the author has apparently already sliced and diced up into something new, making her old third act disappear right along with the inscrutable Amy Dunne (Pike).
Flynn revealed the changes in this week’s Entertainment Weekly cover story about the film (yes, the one that features that John-and-Yoko-inspired image actually shot by Fincher himself that, no, doesn’t quite fit with the feel and substance of the book itself), telling the outlet (one she used to write for) that “there was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent about two years painstakingly putting together with all its eight million LEGO pieces and take a hammer to it and bash it apart and reassemble it into a movie.” The extent of Flynn’s smashing and bashing are also addressed in the piece (thanks to The Film Stage for providing the quote on this one), as she told EW, “Ben [Affleck] was so shocked by it. He would say, ‘This is a whole new third act! She literally threw that third act out and started from scratch.’”
Adapting Flynn’s latest novel to the big screen never seemed like an easy proposition (though Fincher’s talents are very well-suited to the material), simply because the style of storytelling the author utilizes for the novel is so specifically tailored for reading. Rife with criss-crosssing narratives, dips back and forth in time, and ever-shifting perspectives, Gone Girl will no doubt be a hell of a big screen thriller, but it’s also one that begged for some tweaks from its source material. The fact that it’s Flynn herself that is making these changes (and still using the same building blocks from her novel) is quite heartening news.
Flynn is in an extremely enviable place when it comes to her career, particularly as it applies to the impending big screen adaptations of her bestselling books ‐ all three of her novels are set to hit the big screen relatively soon (in fact, while Gone Girl has snagged most of the publicity as of late, thanks to its big-time cast of talents both in front of and behind the camera, it’s actually the Charlize Theron-starring Dark Places that will hit theaters first ‐ that project currently has a set release date of September 1, while Gone Girl will follow on October 3). The film version of her first novel, Sharp Objects, is still in development, but if the autumn-set double whammy of Gone Girl and Dark Places pan out, that thing will be in theaters faster than you can attempt to cover up some sort of crime in some twisty, creepy, Flynnian manner (or whatever it is that you’re into).
Flynn’s books are compulsively readable, the sort of clever fiction that earns the “page-turner” designation in a literal manner ‐ once you get going on a Flynn novel, it’s hard to put it down, thanks to both the author’s lively prose and her compelling storytelling. Will that work on the big screen? If Flynn herself is willing to dismantle her creation in order to make a film version work and translate to its audience, then that’s a hell of a step forward. Should you still read the book first? Yes. (At least before anyone else can spoil it for you.)
Still need a crash course in Flynn? We’ve got you covered.