BLUE’S BEATS #17 – Gone Girl

 

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Blue’s Beats is a blog series where we break down various feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.

 

Gone Girl is a 2014 mystery-thriller, directed by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry. The screenplay was adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name, released in 2012. Author, and former writer for Entertainment Weekly, Gillian Flynn, wrote both the novel and the screenplay, which was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2015. Pike received considerable praise for her portrayal of the cold and calculating Amy Dunne, earning her a nomination for best leading actress at the 2015 Academy Awards.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, proceed with caution. This is a story full of twists and turns, and spoilers are inevitable.

You can read a PDF of the screenplay, here

 

 

PLOT SUMMARY

The search for a missing suburban housewife devolves into a media frenzy as her husband’s innocence comes into question and secrets come to light.

 

SET UP

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) have recently relocated to the Midwest from New York City. All seems well in their suburban life. Nick is a former writer who teaches at a local college and runs a local dive bar, which Amy bought him from royalties she received as the inspiration for her parents’ successful series of children’s novels, “Amazing Amy.” Like the novel, the film is told through a series of flashbacks narrated from the perspective of Amy’s journal entries.

 

INCITING INCIDENT

Page 10, on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, Nick returns home from the bar to find that Amy is missing after what appears to have been a struggle. The scene cuts to the arrival of two detectives and the investigation begins.

 

PLOT POINT ONE

The First Act portrays what appears to be Nick and Amy’s picture-perfect relationship, but, as details come to light through the investigation, it is revealed in the Second Act that their relationship wasn’t quite so perfect after all. Amy resents Nick to some degree for taking her from New York City. She feels that Nick doesn’t contribute like he once did. The relationship appears to have been tumultuous at times, eroding the detectives’ faith in Nick. Page 53 it is revealed that Nick hasn’t been faithful in his marriage. Andie (Emily Ratajkowski), one of Nick’s students, shows up at his front door in the middle of the night. They have been having an affair for some time. At this point in the script, the audience’s feelings towards Nick shift. He no longer appears to be the humble, innocent husband.

 

 

MIDPOINT

Nick is spinning out of control. More and more details have unraveled the façade masking his marriage with Amy. On page 75 he demands a lawyer. The detectives are now investigating him as a suspect. Page 81 is the big reveal. (SPOILER ALERT) Amy is alive and has not been kidnapped at all. She staged her kidnapping, hoping to frame Nick.

 

 

PLOT POINT TWO

The film cuts between Nick fighting for his innocence in the press and Amy hiding out at a hotel somewhere in Texas. Details come to light regarding the extent of Amy’s scheming. She befriends two young people at the hotel, but, on page 118 they ultimately betray and rob her, leaving her with nothing. She has to alter her plan. Meanwhile, Nick prepares to appear on a famous talk show, a vital move in the battle to maintain his image in the media. Page 123, Amy is desperate and seeks the help of a past boyfriend, Desi (Neil Patrick Harris), as a last resort. He takes her to one of his secluded, private residences where she can lay low.

 

CRISIS AND CLIMAX

Amy stays with Desi for some time, but soon feels trapped. She has become Desi’s hostage. So, she stages a scene to make it appear that she was kidnapped and raped, ultimately killing Desi, page 144. She returns home just as Nick has lost all hope in proving his innocence, page 145.

 

DENOUMENT

Nick knows how Amy framed him, but is unable to prove it. She announces to the world that she is pregnant, and Nick is trapped in a loveless marriage, unable to sacrifice his child’s safety for freedom from the woman who nearly had him thrown in prison. The film ends with a mirror image of the opening scene. The characters have come full circle, but we are left with ambiguous answers to some of the film’s most pressing questions. How do we change one another? What must we sacrifice of ourselves to maintain a happy relationship? There is almost inevitably more to a marriage than what we see from the outside. The film revolves around these themes of love, sacrifice, and change.

 

Founded in 1998, the BlueCat Screenplay Competition seeks to develop and discover unknown screenwriters. For 2016 BlueCat Screenplay Competition submission information, click here.

 

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