I don’t usually remember watching movies with my mate Tom – to his great annoyance – but viewing Gone Girl in the cinema last Friday, with us both gasping every 5 minutes in horror, excitement and disgust, will be hard to forget. I wasn’t sure what to expect at all while I made myself comfortable in my large seat after a deliciously greasy meal at McDonalds – the book has been sitting on my shelf for nearly a year now (as one of my Richard & Judy Book Club recommendations waiting to be read) – and all my attention was focused on trying to locate my halal Haribos at the bottom of my bag in the dark.
* Possible spoilers ahead *
I won’t ruin the thrill of watching the movie by revealing its constant suspense with its plot twists and turns, but it is truly a fantastic watch. It builds anticipation and the plot unfolds in a way that keeps you hooked throughout – which is important since it’s verging on Bollywood time in terms of length. The best thing for me was the fact that I didn’t know how the movie would end – which is always a rarity. But the reason why I particularly enjoyed the movie was because I identified closely with the motivations of the main character, Amy Dunne or ‘Amazing Amy’. Amy is an independent, intelligent and successful woman who falls for the relaxed writer and ‘guy next door’ Nick at a party (I don’t identify with this part). However, once they get married and move out of New York to some random suburb, the marriage takes a nosedive. Nick loses his job, plays computer games all day, neglects Amy, doesn’t want kids, and is essentially a slob, pushes her around and uses her for sex whenever he wants. We immediately empathise with Amy – a thriving woman now relegated to the insignificant role of a house slave, forced to live a miserable and loveless life – essentially a shadow of her former self. We start to hate men; marriage and the sacrifices women are forced to make for the sake of ‘love’.
So when Nick returns home one day, and finds that Amy is missing – either abducted or murdered in their home and dragged to a ditch – we really hate Nick. We are also confused by his extremely relaxed state in the face of the fact that his beautiful and adoring wife is missing. We find it hard to suspect Nick – because although he appears to be a d-bag to his wife – he is essentially a nice guy at heart. This leaves us extremely confused and disoriented. We have no idea what has happened to Amy. We start to see Nick and Amy as victims of external forces beyond their control. But then the police start asking questions – and Nick doesn’t seem to know a thing about his wife – her daily habits, her friends or anything about her at all. Which begs the question – how well do we really know the people we think we know? This illusive idea hangs over you throughout the whole movie. All appearances are deceptive as we soon find out that Nick hates his wife; that he was in fact cheating on her with a teen (the infamous pouty girl from the ‘Blurred Lines’ video) and wanted to get a divorce on the day of their 5th anniversary – the day Amy goes missing.
* MASSIVE SPOILER *
And the fact that Amy isn’t dead or missing; in fact she is on the road, driving towards her freedom and engaged in a wicked process of revenge. Yes that’s right; she faked her own death and came up with a meticulous plan to frame her lying husband for her disappearance or perceived murder – this is the part where I identify and admire her character the most. Amy shows that she is not a woman to be messed with; she is in fact a force to be reckoned with. Her attention to detail and determination to attain justice for herself slowly shifts your perception – you no longer see her as the silent victim or jilted wife – somewhat psychologically imbalanced maybe – but definitely no longer a victim. Instead, Nick is seen as the victim, the suffering party in all of this – we slowly start to forget the fact that he is a shitty, lying and cheating husband. Instead we start to feel sorry for him as he lies at the heart of Amy’s painstakingly detailed plan of attack to be framed for her ‘murder’ and eventually face the death penalty.
Now, this may seem like an extreme plan of revenge/justice (depending on how you see it) for some based on Nick’s actions – which to many may seem as relatively normal in the breakdown of a marriage – therefore putting Amy solidly in the camp of ‘crazy’ or psycho bitch. Her plan to frame her husband for her ‘murder’ reinforces the idea of women as extremely cunning, manipulative and unpredictable. I for one, however, saw her determination to execute her plan of action as an attempt to regain control over her life again, find her sense of self and take matters of justice into her own hands. The underlying message I took from this also was the fact that the whole fake murder plot was indeed a loud cry for help on her part; an extreme course of action to get Nick to focus all his attention back on their marriage and reawaken his love for her when he realises that she is missing. Hence, the psychosis of love. The contradictions and extreme actions that one takes for the ‘sake of love’ appears to know no bounds in Amy’s case. Love – it makes us do crazy things. There is no doubt in my mind that Amy is deeply in love with Nick, even throughout what we witness to be a breakdown in their marriage; she even kills another man in order to return to him – again, another brilliant accommodation to her plan – and is determined to make their marriage work (even against Nick’s will). Marriage is ‘hard work’ as she says. This, naturally, leaves Nick trapped in perpetual hell and under her thumb. By the end of the movie, we are all thoroughly convinced she is psychotic and any wrong turn will likely leave Nick with a knife in his throat. Unnerving but eerily delightful at the same time. I personally found her character extremely rational, creative and refreshing.
Overall, there is far too much misogyny in this movie for my liking but nothing beyond what we aren’t used to; gender stereotypes are somewhat upturned yet reinforced (again adds to the overall sense of confusion and unease throughout the movie) and Rosamund Pike’s face conjoined to that of a brilliant thinker/psycho throws us off a bit but it all comes together to create a wonderful and suspense-filled experience. The movie has a fantastic way of shifting and re-shifting our assumptions and perceptions. We doubt the characters in the movie, we doubt ourselves and we doubt the people sitting next to us. Word of caution: do not watch this movie with your partner.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐