They didn’t change the ending. If one thing made fans of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” nervous, it was early reports that the novelist’s adaptation of her own novel for director David Fincher tinkered with the book’s conclusion — but base on the first round of reviews, that particular speculation was unfounded. Flynn is, not surprisingly, faithful to the book, but there seems little question Fincher has left his own formidable mark on the material as well, A few reviewers find “Gone Girl’s” gender politics as troubling on screen as they were on the page, mostly for reasons that are difficult to discuss without spoiling the story’s whopper of a twist, but most find Fincher pushing the novel’s deadpan humor ever so slightly closer to the surface, turning the story into a wry satire of marriage and media. Expect many more reactions when the film screens for media on Friday, just shy of its opening-night premiere at the New York Film Festival.
“Gone Girl” opens October 3.
Justin Chang, Variety
This taut yet expansive psychological thriller represents an exceptional pairing of filmmaker and material, fully expressing Fincher’s cynicism about the information age and his abiding fascination with the terror and violence lurking beneath the surfaces of contemporary American life. Graced with a mordant wit as dry and chilled as a good Chablis, as well as outstanding performances from Ben Affleck and a revelatory Rosamund Pike, Fox’s Oct. 3 wide release should push past its preordained Oscar-contender status to galvanize the mainstream.
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
Transformed into the kind of wickedly confident Hollywood thriller you pray to see once in a decade, Gillian Flynn’s absorbing missing-wife novel emerges — via a faithful script by the author herself — as the stealthiest comedy since “American Psycho.” It’s a hypnotically perverse film, one that redeems your faith in studio smarts (but not, alas, in local law enforcement, tabloid crime reporting or, indeed, marriage).
Robbie Collin, Telegraph
In Fincher’s hands, that smart but arguably undisciplined story becomes something even wilder and yet perversely also more controlled — a neo-noir thriller turned on its blood-spattered head. Here, it’s the homme, rather than the femme, who has the fatale aura, and what comes out of the past only serves to further cloud the murky present.
Geoffrey Macnab, Independent
An immensely slippery, deceptive affair — and that’s what makes it so pleasurable. It’s a story in which the manipulation of the main characters by one another is matched by that of the audience by the filmmakers. The rug is continually being pulled from under our feet.
James Rocchi, the Wrap
After the dour, sour, sadistic Scandanavian misfire of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” it’s a pleasure to note that Fincher’s latest adaptation, of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name, is both wicked and wickedly fun. Not only brutal but also brutally funny, “Gone Girl” mixes top-notch suspenseful storytelling with the kind of razor-edged wit that slashes so quick and clean you’re still watching the blade go past before you notice you’re bleeding.
Xan Brooks, Guardian
“Gone Girl,” finally, may be no more than a storm in a teacup. But what an elegant, bone-china teacup this is. And what a fearsome force-10 gale we have brewing inside.
David Edelstein, Vulture
The movie is phenomenally gripping — although it does leave you queasy, uncertain what to take away on the subject of men, women, marriage, and the possibility of intimacy from the example of such prodigiously messed-up people. Though a woman wrote the script, the male gaze dominates, and this particular male — the director of “Se7en” and “The Social Network”— doesn’t have much faith in appearances, particularly women’s. Fincher’s is a world of masks, misrepresentations, subtle and vast distortions. Truth is rarely glimpsed. Media lie. Surfaces lie.
Graham Fuller, Screen International
Less visceral in the main than most Fincher films, save “The Social Network,” “Gone Girl” is stylistically restrained, but for a few poetic touches (such as a cloud of sugar that dusts Amy with mystery). “Psycho” is a touchstone (as is “Body Heat”), though Fincher utilises suspense as a smokescreen for social critiquing.
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
With a screenplay by the novelist herself, David Fincher’s film of “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn’s twisty, nasty and sensational best-seller, is a sharply made, perfectly cast and unfailingly absorbing melodrama. But, like the director’s adaptation of another publishing phenomenon,” The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” three years ago, it leaves you with a quietly lingering feeling of: “Is that all there is?”
Michael Nordine, Indiewire
In its incremental reveal of key details and wrenching scenes of townsfolk fruitlessly combing the landscape for someone who isn’t there, “Gone Girl” is sporadically reminiscent of “Exotica” and even the original “Paradise Lost” documentary. Still, it’s hard to shake the notion that he could be doing something more rewarding than becoming the preeminent director of airport-novel adaptations, a trajectory that’s all the more disappointing after the trifecta of “Zodiac,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and “The Social Network.”
In full accord w/ @justincchang: GONE GIRL is an exhilarating, pitch-black marital comedy; Fincher’s EYES WIDE SHUT; the movie of the year.
— Scott Foundas (@foundasonfilm) September 22, 2014