I love a good challenge, don’t get me wrong. But writing about this trailer– and eventually reviewing the film as a whole come October– will undoubtedly be a daunting task for me. I would say that even adapting the book to film would have been a daunting task for whomever took on that challenge, but seeing as David Fincher and Gillian Flynn herself are collaborating on it, I’d say that the source material is in unquestionably good hands.
So, I’ll keep this Preview Review in Focus somewhat brief, because the first trailer for Gone Girl— which is almost dialogue-free– speaks for itself. The teaser opens with piano music and Ben Affleck, starring as Nick Dunne, announcing that his wife Amy has gone missing. From there, we see a shot of Amy, played by Rosamund Pike, turning her head up towards us, and we come to recognize the ballad as “She,” originally by Charles Aznavour and famously covered by Elvis Costello, here covered hauntingly by Richard Butler. Equally haunting is the juxtaposition of the song and the images we see; the mismatch is eerie and somehow cynical, and gives audiences– yes, even those who have read the novel– an unsettling sense of mystery.
Like the novel, the images here also seem to be presented non-linearly (which, of course, makes sense for any trailer. But here, that temporal whiplash is all the more significant and obvious and affecting; we see Nick and Amy kiss but we also see them fight within a matter of seconds). The fight we see also ushers in a crescendo in the song beautifully. After that, while the images flash too quickly to necessarily recognize all of them from the novel, there are some that will definitely have fans (like myself) squealing, including when Nick smiles in a press conference about Amy or, even more so, the moment when he walks towards a shed, the trailer later revealing just a shot of his shocked face and shaking hands as he has, presumably, opened and walked into it.
This brings me to my next point about the trailer, actually; there are certain shots that focus closely on Ben Affleck’s face, and although this is just the trailer I’m basing this on, I’d like to say now that I think he will be perfect as Nick Dunne. Both he and Pike exhibit quick flashes of emotions in subtle, nuanced ways, or their faces rather carry a number of complex emotions at once with terrifying simplicity and ease; and again, it’s impressive that one could see this within this trailer alone. As someone who has read the book, I could argue that this talent is most important in at least some respects for Pike to have in playing Amy, a character who is deeply complicated, but the fact that we are meant to question Nick’s innocence throughout the narrative as well requires a similar kind of complexity, which (it seems to me so far) Affleck has pulled off seamlessly.
The trailer in general is seamless, really. This looks like it will be a truly mature and twisty thriller, just like the book was. Flynn and Fincher have allegedly worked together to dismantle and rewrite the entire third act, so even fans will be kept guessing all over again. But, fans are also given just enough here to be excited about the faithful transference of at least some of the source material. The final image of Amy in the water is haunting, and it is just one of many in the trailer that also speak to Fincher’s distinct color palate and overall aesthetic. If there’s anyone I trust with this novel, it is him, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to know that Flynn wrote the screenplay and changed the finale herself as opposed to someone else less capable and less entitled doing so. I think both fans of the novel and new audiences who have never read it before will be easily invested in and intrigued by this story, and in film form, it will hopefully be as scary and profound as ever. If this trailer is any indication, then the cynicism, darkly smart humor, and suspense of the novel, plus the complexity of its characters and the non-linear structure of its plot will all remain intact, and those are arguably what make the story and the book so great in the first place.
Gone Girl hits theaters on October 3rd of this year.