How Will the ‘Gone Girl’ Movie Tell Both Sides of the Book’s Story?

By now, the trailers for David Fincher films are just as easily identifiable as the movies themselves: dark mood lighting, little dialogue, and an eerie melancholgy song. And the trailer for the highly-anticipated Gone Girl is no exception. The film, which has been adapted from the novel by Gillian Flynn, centers on the crumbling marriage of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) after they move from New York to Missouri. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. As the search for her drags on and the media frenzy surrounding the case continues to grow, Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. But as he attempts to prove his innocence to a disbelieving public, Nick soon discovers that things are not entirely what they seem. 

One of the most acclaimed elements of the novel was that it was told from both Nick and Amy’s perspectives. His: narrating the events that unfolded after her disappearance, and hers: told through journal entries written in the months leading up to their anniversary. The mystery at the center of Gone Girl is built on those two, competing narratives, and forces the reader to piece together the evidence that these unreliable narrators to provide. While this added layer of mystery and intrigue is one of the most popular aspects of Flynn’s novel, the trailer seems to suggest that these dual perspectives might not have made it to the big screen. No shots or mentions of Amy’s journal, and no references to her side of the story. Just Nick and a great deal of press coverage. And since Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, has revealed that it will deviate from the novel in order to tell the story in a brand new way, it’s likely that many fans are concerned about how well Gone Girl‘s mystery will hold up without those duelling stories. 

However, the trailer does reveal some hints about the approach that Flynn and Fincher have taken towards translating the story that seem to promise that those twisting, confusing tales will still be a part of Gone Girl. For one, Pike is heavily featured in the trailer in moments that reflect both the angry dissolution of their relationship as well as ones that hearken back to the happier times they shared, which seems to suggest that Amy will mostly appear in flashbacks. In many ways, a non-linear storyline is the best way to adapt both Amy and Nick’s stories into one coherent narrative, as it will allow audience to compare the two versions of events in much the same way that the book allowed readers to piece together the narrative. Fincher has experience constructing a single perspective out of competing versions of events, and The Social Network utilized a non-linear, flashback heavy structure to great effect, allowing us to see how mark, Eduardo and the Winklevoss twins all perceived the founding of Facebook. 

Gone Girl20th Century Fox

Of course, using this kind of style does eliminate the fact that Amy’s journals are an important plot point in addition to providing the reader with her version of events, and are the key to the reader discovering the truth about her disappearance. Luckily, the trailer also seems to hint at adding the physical significance of Amy’s journals without having to resort to a clunky, awkward voice-over: the envelope marked “Clue One.” Combining the envelopes with flashbacks would allow the film to retain the vital role Amy’s writing plays in terms of the plot without sacrificing her perspective, or relying on a voice-over narration, which can often be clunky and awkward, especially in serious dramas, in order to communicate the ways that Amy and Nick’s stories differ. 

The plot of Gone Girl is twist-heavy, reliant on establishing a certain set of facts as true before throwing them out and revealing the actual truth of the situation. It’s a difficult thing to adapt into a movie, especially since film usually requires a single perspective in order to tell a cohesive story. With both sides of the story given equal weight in the book, especially in terms of setting up and framing a major twist, the only way for that twist-heavy plot to hold up onscreen is to find a way to incorporate both perspectives into the script. If Fincher and Flynn have indeed gone for a combination of flashbacks and physical clues, it would allow them to reinvent the story for the big screen while still remaining true to what made the book so popular. Plus, it adds an extra layer to Amy and Nick’s stories, and will likely impact the way that the audience interprets the characters. 

As for whether or not this new method of story-telling is successful in translating the mystery and intrigue of the novel? Well, we’ll have to wait until Gone Girl is released on October 3 to find out.