There’s a problem with reading a thriller before you see it – you already know what’s going to happen. The same things that keep you turning the pages the first time round aren’t necessarily the same ones that keep you glued to the screen. But that’s okay, because I think they both come with their own benefits.
Firstly, you’re obviously going to see a film where you’ve read the book because you enjoyed it. I read Gone Girl to see what all the fuss was about, decided I wanted to be a part of that fuss (after leaving it nearly dangerously late to see it at the cinema) and then wanted to see how that translated on screen. Rather than wanting to see who was the abductee, I wanted to see how they adapted a complicated first person narrative into a coherent screenplay.
Sat in the cinema, my boyfriend turned to me and said ‘I hate that you know what will happen.’ I understand his frustration – seeing a film with a knowing person sat next to you grinning in anticipation is annoying at best – but it’s also actually where the bulk of my pleasure comes from when seeing adaptations. Yes, I love to be surprised at the cinema, but just as we tell the same family anecdotes over and over, there’s is a visceral pleasure in already knowing the retort.
I think Gone Girl is definitely one of the more successful adaptations I’ve seen recently, and one that didn’t leave me feeling deflated as it undid all the joy I feel reading the first time round. It’s not always I feel like that. It’s was also very true to the book, though I felt, perhaps, that it would have been nice to have Nick narrate the first part a little more, as in the book. But then I’m not a screenplay writer. I am, however, sat on a train with another of Gillian Flynn’s books, Dark Places. So if you’ll excuse me…