“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review: Gone Girl (16s)

Adapted by Gillian Flynn from her phenomenally bestselling novel, Gone Girl (16s) opens with Nick Dunne reporting the disappearance of his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), from their family home in North Carthage, Missouri. Signs of a struggle suggest that Amy has been abducted, but Nick’s odd behaviour leads police detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) to make Nick the prime suspect. A conventional tale to open with, Gone Girl very quickly starts to twist, turn and loop-the-loop: Flynn and director David Fincher have modified the novel’s narrative structure but otherwise the movie remains faithful to the source material, embroiling Nick – who is, of course, nowhere as innocent as he pretends – in a wonderfully baroque tale that is part revenge thriller, part lurid psychological dissection, and part ‘domestic noir’. Pike and Affleck are superb in the lead roles, not least because both are required to play ambivalent characters who become increasingly nasty in what amounts to a blizzard of revelations and volte-face turns – the story pulls few punches about the worst aspects of both male and female behaviour – while Dickens, Patrick Fugit and Carrie Coon provide strong support. Overly long for a thriller at 149 minutes, the movie is nevertheless full value for virtually every moment (the last ten minutes or so are unnecessarily tacked on), and Fincher and Flynn further offer a fascinating variety of storytelling techniques – Nick’s first-person voice-over, the flashbacks courtesy of Amy’s diary, the distorting prism of media overkill – to tease out the truth of what really happened to Amy Dunne. It’s not perfect by any means, but Gone Girl is an intensely gripping thriller that offers one of the most fabulously entertaining femme fatales of the past two decades. ***** ~ Declan Burke

This review first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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