This is not a date movie.
Gillian Flynn’s bestselling page-turner Gone Girl, adapted by Flynn herself and directed by auteur David Fincher, is sensational, thought-provoking, and above all a damn good thriller. It is to the film’s credit that the 150 minutes-long running time flies by, as you slowly grow more and more convinced never to get married ever.
Rosamund Pike, in a star-making turn features as the eponymous Mrs Amy Elliott Dunne, wife to once-handsome-still-slimy Ben Affleck as Mr Nick Dunne. Despite her British parentage, Pike fits snugly as the NYC born-and-bred, scarily intelligent, beautiful woman who will be her husband’s reckoning. She is at once Hitchcock’s icy blonde who you know is bad news for every man who meets her, and an Agatha Christie-like villain in her precise premeditation. In a phenomenal performance, she goes from sugar-kissed charming heroine to a killer Tarantino would be proud of, what with all that blood spillage. (Whoopsie.) Ben Affleck despite being really good (his snarky smile comes of really good use here) is overshadowed by Pike, as is Neil Patrick Harris. (My favourite moment with Pike and Affleck was when Amy asks Nick to kiss her in front of the cameras, and he knowingly smiles, leans in, and puckers to the air.) And i do hope i see more of Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens who are the other strong female characters populating Nick Dunne’s life.
Starting out as a tale of a suburban conjugal paradise lost, Mr and Mrs Dunne’s story spirals into a web of mutual lies, deceit and mistrust. Nick and Amy Dunne as a married couple have come to know each other well, too well, and so they play egotistical mind-games to prove their superiority. Barring Amy Dunne’s scheming, murderous, psychopathic inclinations, the film and the book are laden with generous doses of chilling commentary on feminism, courtship and relationships in this decade. Flynn makes brutally honest observations on how men and women approach dating and relationships – in the book’s aftermath, the discussed-to-death phenomenon of Cool Girl. Flynn makes this point, and i agree with her; in the race to be unique, different and individualistic, we’re becoming more generic, more indistinguishable from the next person. “Be who you want to be” they say, but all they mean is “Go become another man’s soulmate.” The Ideal Woman therefore, is beautiful, successful, witty and modern while also a dutiful homemaker and nurturing mother. Does this mean that women’s gender roles have not changed at all? No matter how successful they may be at the workplace, is their ultimate destiny to remain the model housewife Good Housekeeping intended? And all this for an unappreciative husband and the screwed-up institution that is marriage; a scheme that is destined to fail.
Despite these musings, i urge that Amy Dunne is not a heroine. She is not the suffering woman’s saviour. Her vendetta is driven not by a desire to avenge women in general; she is a psychopath, with a history of causing real hurt and damage. The entirety of Gone Girl in no case should be seen as a true portrayal of marriage; i daresay not all marriages end in a faked pregnancy and a murder. Obviously, wronged women cannot fix society with murderous vengeance. That is not justice. That is not feminism, as some readers of the book may come to believe. I agree that the book tends to take a more-than-spiteful and cynical look at how men take their wives for granted, and stereotypes them as constantly on the lookout for their next big f***. But Flynn deserves due credit for sparking debate on the twisted gender roles through the suburban purgatory that Amy creates for her cheating husband. In my humble, uninformed and inconsequential opinion, the fault here, lies with both men and women, for their unrealistic projections of love and marriage. We must live and expect of others as real people, not pop-culture’s ugly mannequins.
P.S. The title of the post is a reference to
drama pop queen Taylor Swift’s chart-topping song, which i think is secretly Amy Dunne’s anthem. Every damn lyric fits.