With the first wave of festival announcements out of the way, it appears to me the sexiest get of them all is New York's opening night selection of David Fincher's “Gone Girl.” Fincher has danced with the awards season with his last few films and this one is probably his most hotly anticipated effort in a while, given that it's an adaptation of an immensely popular novel.
Indeed, author Gillian Flynn even came on board to pen the adaptation herself, which isn't typical but may have been shrewd in this case; fans will be clamoring to see how the twisting and turning novel has been transitioned to the screen, and having a familiar name talking it up along the way will be beneficial. The book was really destined for theaters, because as Flynn reveals in a recent interview with the Film Society of Lincoln Center (who puts on the New York Film Festival), she went from seeing the book published to selling the film rights to officially starting work on the screenplay within a span of five months. She was already meeting with Fincher a few months after that.
The daughter of a film professor, Flynn always had interest in movies and says in the interview that an adaptation of “Gone Girl” was always something she was interested in pursuing. And as readers of the novel know, it's a tricky one to translate, a mystery told through dual perspectives. It's already been reporting that the film will feature an entirely new ending (one that “shocked” star Ben Affleck when he first read it, according to a January Entertainment Weekly cover story) and it will surely bring a few other surprises along the way as well.
Here's what Flynn told Film Society about these challenges:
The structure of the book poses particular challenges for adaptation. It's a very interior novel and plays a lot with time and chronology. It isn't a book you necessarily read and then think you can just slap it onto a movie screen. I had to take a step back and disassemble the book and put it back together again. To me that was part of the fun. It took on a second life.
It's refreshing to know that she got into that kind of creative sparring with her own work, rather than just cutting and pasting the narrative into Final Draft. There was also this nugget, which I found fascinating:
My fondest dream is that it will be the date movie that breaks up couples nationwide. Maybe people will walk out of there and think, “Maybe not. I don't know if I know you well enough…” The movie is about how well you can possibly know one another. We're so steeped in pop culture and so steeped in different roles. How can you possibly combine with another person and have that truth exist in a relationship. The [story] definitely plays off of that idea.
I'm very excited for “Gone Girl” because it seems to bring the kind of cerebral and deeply thematic opportunities that just didn't feel all that present in the poppy, consumer-y “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” For all the aesthetic brilliance of that film, it just never resonated on a level beyond the “merely” entertaining for me, which was a shock given the presence of a master screenwriter like Steven Zaillian.