Saturday, 4 October 2014


Have you read this insane novel yet? If you haven't, don't. DON'T. Race 'em to the nearest picture house, blindly, as if life itself depended on it, kicking pensioners out of the way if you have to, before every last bastard you know comes charging like a bull in a bowl shop, desperate to wreck the ending for you. 

Actually it's not the ending you really need to worry about. Not so much. In predictable Hollywood style, the director David Fincher (Panic Room, The Social Network etc) does that for you. The damage is limited, you can live with it. I have. Look, they do it to Dickens and Shakespeare. It's every little, creepy plot-twist and turn from beginning through middle towards the least obvious ending, ever, that you don't want to spoil by knowing what's coming. The movie is faithful enough to both theme and plot for that to happen. My friend Richard Hughes made me read it, about a year ago. I do as he tells me. Nothing scares me. This book did. I was too frightened to go down to the kitchen for more wine. Had to make do with just the two bottles, imagine. Sat up all night, second-guessing, calculating whodunnit, putting words into characters' mouths, and still got it all wrong. I misread every principal, every motive, every last outcome. Everything shocked me. Still does. What I wish, massively, is that I hadn't eaten the book before the film. 

So I'm not going to say too much more about it. Ben Affleck as 'The Husband', Nick Dunne, is a little chunky and surly for my taste. I had in mind someone leaner, less thuggish, more in touch with his feminine side. 'The Wife', Amy Dunne, played by Bond beauty Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day) is more convincing. At least they didn't give it to Keira Knightley. Handed the choice, I would have stood Reese Witherspoon in front of the lens instead of behind it - she co-directs - as it's the role that could have brought out her Meryl Streep. But where we are, we are. I'm still drooling over the lawyer (Go, Tanner!) and I still want to murder Amy's bloodsucking parents. Beyond that, I must say only this: that marital meltdown is a poisonous, festering bog. Gillian (hard 'G') Flynn, the author, cheerfully admits that she has zero experience of its hideous soul-destroyingness, and yet she writes as a real-life survivor of relationship-rot. This is vile imagination at its most dreadful, most brilliant, most irresistible worst. Can any individual ever know another truly? Even the one to whom they pledge their love and life? You don't want to know the answer to that. Yet you know you do.

Flynn's earlier two novels Sharp Objects and Dark Places are also movies coming to a cinema near you soon. The former, I think I remember, will star Cameron Diaz. Do yourself a favour and don't do read those, either. It's a chocolate-box thing. Save the best 'til last.

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