This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
JoshTheCritic’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Watched this again after reading the page-turning book for the first time (and chose to study this screenplay for a class). This is a darkly twisted mystery film that is at times is very humorous in a messed up way and full of personality.
Gillian Flynn adapted her novel brilliantly to life with the help of David Fincher's impeccable, really flawless direction. I think all of the changes and condensing was done for the better for this medium and used its runtime without padding, wasting no time. In terms of characters, Marybeth and Gilpin were made more unlikeable in this version I found, which works especially well for Gilpin since the film unlike the book goes into his and investigator Boney's perspective, and they made a great good-cop-bad-cop contrast with each other. Nick's affair was toned down in this one, probably for the best. The back and forth with present-day life with Nick and the flashbacks in Amy's arguably not-so-reliable diary entries perspective in the first half work seamlessly, keeping what's most essential from the book. I liked that once Boney finds "Diary Amy", the flashbacks are done and Amy and Nick's intertwining stories happen simultaneously, which successfully keeps the pacing up and the tensions high. This is one of the best adaptations I've seen done in recent years. The script kills it, with a majority of the dialogue directly from the novel!
Since this is a movie, there is much more visual storytelling going on and we can't just read the character's thoughts, as in the book. This goes in the film's favor since there is so much to read in the subtext and the minor, subtle nuances in the performances. Reading the book only enhances the experience, knowing what they might say when they are silent (especially Amy's character). Rosamund Pike is very terrifying and genius as the psychopath 'Amazing Amy'. Ben Affleck also gives one of his best performances; he definitely nailed the sometimes awkward and complete jerk appearance that gives people a certain impression of his character. Thematically it's rich. It's a rather radical yet thrilling dive at the effects of the negative recession in the late 2000s and is a commentary on mob-mentality, a very real thing in our society. It's a complicated look at an imperfect, grey relationship--both Nick and Amy are bad people, one may be more so than the other, are dishonest, and possibly most importantly: they know each other more than anyone else. No one can ever know what another is truly thinking, this film does that cleverly, yet the degree that Nick and Amy know of each other's thought process by the end makes them sort of meant for each other...in a dark, screwed up way. Nick is kind of forced to make his marriage good or else he will die, but still interesting stuff. I loved the cinematography, the atmosphere, the use of color plus the moody lighting I can't get enough of. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have an awesome score. The editing is great and this is one of David Fincher's best films. There's plenty to unpack about this modern masterpiece.