I had been waiting so keenly to see this. The book was of the ‘can’t put down’ variety and the prospect of reliving it on the screen was a juicy one. Halfway through, however, I realised that my enjoyment had been blunted because I knew everything that was about to happen, which makes it impossible to be fully immersed in what is a classic thriller – it was like watching a footy replay. In writing the script, Gillian Flynn has made virtually no changes to her best-selling novel (for no obvious reason the black defence lawyer is now a man rather than a woman), even lifting some passages of dialogue directly from the page to the screen. It is a dark and discomfiting mystery that sheds a brutal light on not just the way that public perceptions are so shallow and easily manipulated, but also, most scathingly, on how, as individuals, we can be entirely self-serving, deceitful and, ultimately, unknowable. The movie also has a shockingly visceral scene linking sex with death that you won’t forget in a hurry.
The perfect marriage of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) starts to unravel when circumstances force the couple to re-locate from New York to Nick’s native Missouri. Silvertail Amy is a fish out of water in her new surrounds, while Nick becomes increasingly aware that the bar set for him by Amy is too high – they are living a lie. Out of the blue one morning, Amy disappears and Nick is suspected of foul play. The complex structure of the novel, employing flashbacks and jumps from the search and investigation to Amy’s diary entries and whereabouts is seamlessly handled by director David Fincher, although I found the plot-points a little more far-fetched than I’d thought them to be in the reading. Essentially, it is Amy’s story and Pike does a brilliant job of portraying her multifaceted, driven personality, while Affleck’s perceptiveness adds flesh to the bone of a character who was initially a secondary player. If neither of them is likeable, both are uncomfortably true. Unmissable.