"Gone Girl"

Ben Affleck stars in “Gone Girl,” based on the acclaimed novel and now playing in area theaters.

I have to wonder if my reaction to “Gone Girl” would have been different if I hadn’t read the book.

It’s a movie I’ve been looking forward to for weeks, highly anticipating the film adaptation of a novel I found brilliant and intriguing. Well, until the end.

“Gone Girl” is a tale of two loves. And to steal a phrase from a Dickens classic, it really was the best of times and/or the worst of times, depending on whom you believe.

Just as in the book, the film is split into two story lines.

Meet Amy. We’re told about the evolution of her romance with a man through her journal entries. From the day she meets Nick Dunne, she’s a girl in love. She takes us through the high points of the relationship, from a sweet kiss in a sugar cloud to an even sweeter marriage proposal.

But not everything is a fairy tale for Nick and Amy. The portrait she paints of the man she loves isn’t always so picture perfect. Their storybook love in New York hits bumps in the road as the recession ends their careers and a move to Missouri changes their lives and lifestyle.

But Amy’s version is only half the story. In between her flashbacks, we meet Nick. His tale begins the day he comes home to find his wife missing.

While Amy’s movie is a romantic comedy (of sorts), Nick’s half is a police procedural (of sorts). Each day is documented and examined as Nick and his story are picked apart by the police.

While the film has a decent supporting cast with Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens (whom I adored as Detective Rhonda Boney), Missi Pyle, Tyler Perry and many others, the leads for “Gone Girl” are what sell the film.

As Nick, Ben Affleck is in a role that seems tailor-made for him. Nick Dunne is the ultimate smooth operator. Even in Amy’s journal, the moments that are meant to be sweet seem edged with a bit of sleaze thrown in for good measure. Your gut tells you this man is no good, but you’re not sure how much of a bad boy he really is.

Then there’s former Bond girl Rosamund Pike — you might or might not remember her as Miranda Frost in 2002’s “Die Another Day.” She’s had other roles in the last 12 years, but Amy Elliott Dunne may be the character that makes her a star.

Pike seems to relish each delicious twist and turn the character takes. She is extremely entertaining to watch.

And there are plenty of twists and turns. While the movie does seem to drag at times, it weaves an intricate story that leaves you transfixed at points. At least, it did with me.

From this point on, it’s hard to write this review without spoilers, but I’ll do my best.

As the story unfolds, you begin to realize that neither Amy or Nick are individuals you like very much.

Amy is, perhaps, the person her parents created. The authors of the “Amazing Amy” book series, Rand and Marybeth Elliott (David Clennon and Lisa Banes) create the perfect daughter, one who excels at all things. The real Amy was always outdone by her counterpart, so perhaps she became someone who would win at all costs.

And Nick, well ... Nick is a douchebag. His interaction with the police, Amy’s parents and the public in the aftermath of his wife’s disappearance scream this is the guy who needs a swift knee to his nether regions.

Like I said, I have to wonder how I would have reacted to the film if I hadn’t read the book beforehand. There are moments that should leave you shocked and astounded, but I knew each and every plot twist and when it was coming. I wasn’t watching “Gone Girl” waiting to see what happened next. Instead, I was watching to see a fantastic story visualized.

At least, it’s a fantastic story until the end. Gillian Flynn wrote an amazing novel. And then, she gave it an ending that ticked me off, made me call Flynn a moron and almost regret having read the book to begin with. The movie’s ending is similarly dissatisfying, so be warned.

Overall, “Gone Girl” delivers a solid film, at least for me. At 145 minutes, it might prove too much of a slow burn for some, but I was glued to the screen. It wasn’t as enthralling as the book, but as in all matters, nothing is as special as that first time.

Amanda Greever is the assistant managing editor of The Daily Times. Contact her at amanda.greever@thedailytimes.com, follow her on Twitter @agreever_editor and “Like” Weekend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dailytimesweekend.

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